He Did His Homework
We mentioned recently that our Cardinals guy, Kent Somers, had seized upon a new cliché that athletes are spouting with regularity: “It is what it is.”
We started thinking there ought to be some credit for being the first to pinpoint it, like if he discovered Pluto or something. So we called on the guy who wrote the book on sports clichés. Really.
Dr. Don Powell, a psychologist and author of Best Sports Clichés Ever! has identified 4,300 sports clichés, a list he paired down to 1,771 for the book. (You can order it through Amazon.com or at BestSportsCliches.com, where you can also vote for the all-time sports cliché.)
And, yes, Powell has recently picked up on this “it-is-what-it-is” phenomenon.
“It’s tough to identify where it originated,” Powell said. “But my wife uses that in her yoga classes. It’s almost like a shortened version of the (Serenity Prayer) – you control the things you can control and let go of those things you cannot control and move on from there.”
We mentioned our theory that it’s just another way of saying, “I’ve got nothing to say.”
“It is a way of avoiding answers,” Powell said. “In a sense, they’re saying nothing. It’s another way of saying no comment, or I can’t change things – what’s the next question?”
Maybe we’re just defensive. From the moment sports reporters get their first spiral notebook, they are taught to avoid writing down clichés.
However, Powell thinks we should let them fly. They’re sort of the universal language of sports.
“There would be a lot of dead air on the airwaves if broadcasters didn’t use them,” he said. “I call them a secret handshake of sports. If somebody is sitting at the bar watching a game and says the quarterback threw up a wounded duck, a sports fan sitting next to him knows exactly what that means.
“Psychologically, familiarity breeds comfort. I first heard some of these clichés sitting on my father’s lap listening to Yankees games.”
We still think Powell should give our go-to guy, Somers, some credit, but the ball’s in his court.