One of the reasons I decided to spring for cable for the second half of the year is the NFL. I don't watch every game and I'm often multi-tasking when a game is on, but I do enjoy watching football on TV, even now when I don't have that much rooting interest in any one team. While I enjoy the game, the mangling of the English language, especially by the commentators but also sometimes by the play-by-play announcers, drives me nuts. I pictured Al Michaels and John Madden here because they are the best known football announcers and probably the best, and they still suck at English.
Problem number 1: The War on Adverbs. So many commentators have decided that pesky "L-Y" at the end of words is actually optional, and they have decided unilaterally to use it as sparingly as possible, so as not to appear snooty and full of high falutin' book learnin'. (Note: Matty Boy snuck three adverbs into the last sentence, and only "unilaterally" could be uncharitably characterized as "snooty". Look, he snuck another one in parenthetically. And another! Consarn that Matty Boy and his book learnin'!) For example, many offensive coordinators are criticized for "calling the game too conservative".
Commentators! It's conservativeLY! It's an adverb! Look it up.
Last night, Al Michaels used my least favorite made up word of all time in the sports lexicon.
All too often, when some good player is not playing up to potential, an announcer will say he needs to "get untracked". You might think this phrase makes no sense. You would be correct.
The metaphorical underpinning for "untracked" is that a track is like a rut and no one wants to be in a rut, so a player should get out of the track (read rut) and back on the good path. Many people with high falutin' book learnin' think this usage is idiotic, and Matty Boy agrees with them completely.
A track is not a rut. It is a technological advancement. When things on tracks get untracked, the result is not good. Think about a sliding door getting off its tracks. Not good. If a train gets untracked and you are lucky, you are looking at thousands of dollars of physical damage, and if unlucky, you can add in scores of deaths and injuries.
This is because tracks are our friends, unlike ruts, which are usually to be avoided.
Too many sports announcers are in the rut of using "untracked". If we could alert them when they make this error, say by having nearby fans throw shoes at the offending media personality, I believe this improper usage could be reduced and possibly eliminated in the space of a few seasons.
(There's Matty Boy, sneakily slipping in another adverb. And another one! Will that scamp ever stop?)
Calendar Pages for October
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