6 Annoying Phrases Used By Sports Commentators

Posted on by Brian Neese (BrianN)
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Give sports commentators credit: they have a tough job. Coming up with new and exciting dialogue to keep viewers interested, along with accurately calling the game, is not that easy. Many of us would hardly be able to talk if millions of people were watching us and listening to every word that came out of our mouths. Yet despite the admirable job most sports commentators do, there are some phrases and clichés that need to go.You've heard them before. They drive you crazy, yet they still seem to pop up again and again. Here are six of the worst.

6. "He's a Team Player"


Chris Paul is a team player, and David West, and...

This is a bad cliché that, like many bad sports clichés, states the obvious. Saying that a person is a team player in a team-driven sport does not give the viewer much at all. The commentator is likely attempting to bring awareness to the important role that the player has on the team. However, this phrase offers no insight whatsoever. It's like the "role player" version of "He is the man!"

How to fix it: Offer some substance -- that's all that's lacking. Instead of saying that Chauncey Billups is a team player, tell us why (e.g., he can take some of the offensive load when needed).

5. "It's a Chess Match Out There Now"


GM Yue looking at his starters for tonight's ballgame.

To explain the poor rationale of this phrase, it is often used in late-game situations and/or when there are match up alterations happening. This term is often substituted when the commentator wants to point out the intense strategy that is occurring (e.g., which lineup to go with, how a player could take advantage of the defense, etc).

There are no similarities between chess and these situations to warrant such a comment. After all, sports players do not have fixed abilities that move along ranks, files, and diagonals as they do in chess, nor are the dynamic aspects of each aligned in some amazing manner. Sure, you can develop the initiative in a game of chess and you can do so when running the clock down in football with the lead, but what is similar between these two other than loose conceptions of "strategy"?

As a result, this phrase is certainly just an ignorant way to comment on the advanced strategy occurring in the game.

How to fix it: Get rid of it and instead talk about what is actually occurring.

4. "They're Taking It One Game At a Time"


Pitcher Brian Wilson taking it one game at a time.

In case you ever wondered if your favorite athlete is thinking about next week's match up, rest assured: it's one game at a time. This one is a double cliché, as not only is it used to refer to a team's (or player's) concentration of the current game, but also when the sports commentator gives advice ("They need to take it one game at a time"). Even the players use this tired statement as if it's some genius form of strategy.

The ironic thing is, this cliché can be true and false. Maybe the Yankees are looking forward to next week's series with the Red Sox, and not the last game with the Royals. Even if that is true, I think it's safe to say that that's not going through their head during the game.

How to fix it: Find a non-cliché way to express the value of concentration or how that concentration is aligned to the team's short-term schedule.

3. "The Team/Player Needs It More"


Garnett must have wanted it more; but who needs the title more?

Let's qualify this one a bit, as maybe a team that is down 3-0 in a playoff series may need the next game more--though we could attack that as well. This phrase is often used to compare which team or player needs a win or even a certain league title "more."

For example, you might hear of how Kobe Bryant needs a (another in his case) title more than an up-and-coming NBA player such as Derrick Rose. However, statements like these run into a problem: logic. Yes, sure, as analysts will say, to somehow compete with Michael Jordan as the greatest, but it's all relative. Why does one player or team need it more than anyone else? Everyone's in it to win -- that's the whole point of their career.

How to fix it: Remove the comparison itself and insert meaningful commentary.

2. "They Came to Play Tonight"


After Ryan Howard's home run, it is apparent that he came to play today.

This is another case of stating the obvious. Your favorite player didn't come to watch the game or enjoy the new arena, he came to play. It's a dumbfounding cliché that adds nothing. At least the "team player" cliché attempts to inform you of how the player contributes to the team. Saying that a player came to play is not only obvious, but denotatively explicit.

How to fix it: Get to the point. If you're trying to describe how focused the player is, then try harder to do just that.

1. "110%"


The rare and exotic 110% milk. It's like whole milk, only 10% milkier.


The cream of the crop reeks of mathematical impossibility. This is borderline ludicrous when you're hearing it from your coach on your 7th grade basketball team, let alone high-level commentary or from professional coaches and players.

The idea of giving a percentage larger than 100 is quite dumb. From ESPN's article on the worst sports clichés, I like Mr. Brady's response: "On the stupidity scale of 1-10...it gets an 11."

Another logical criticism: how often do players even play up to their highest abilities?

How to fix it: If you want to express how well a player is doing, use terms that are not mathematically impossible.

Which Is Worse?

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