By Paul M. Banks
On both the collegiate and professional levels, Media and Public Relations departments have done a bang-up job training coaches and players to give the most banal and sanitized statements possible. Often times, I’ve been able to predict exactly how a question will be responded to in a locker room or at a press conference, as soon as the reporter finishes asking the question. Of course, the PR departments, players and coaches etc. are just doing their jobs- it’s expected. What kills me is when the journalists take the bait and just lazily repeat the shopworn and mind-numbing phrases. Given how we’re all on strict word counts and/or have a small time to broadcast our post-game pieces, why would you waste that space on language that is utterly formulaic and dumbs everyone down?
You’d be surprised by how often so many of these phrases actually make it broadcast and publication, If any Sports Bank writers include them, I delete it on site. If there are two or more, then it’s time to talk about that contributor’s future with the site. But seriously after the Penn State-Illinois game earlier this month, I actually saw a reporter who was at the same press conferences and getting the same interviews as me actually use the first cliché, the Granddaddy of them all in her broadcast. Just unacceptable.
1.) “We’re just taking it one day/game/week/ at a time. We’re just focused on the next one right now. We’re not looking ahead on the schedule.” This one is so awful and overused that making fun of it is almost becoming cliché.
2.) “We needed this adversity/reality check/loss in order to keep us on target/track/goal oriented/focused on what we’re trying to do.” Yeah keep telling yourself that, instead of just admitting that you sucked that day.
3.) “I couldn’t have done it without the Lord above/God/ my faith in Jesus because I’m just one man/one player/one component in a team game/concept.” Why doesn’t anyone ever say anything about God or Jesus after a loss? Is losing strictly a secular endeavor?
4.) “We’re not concerned about their defensive schemes/game plan/home field advantage we only care about what we’re running/planning/our outlook. We’re just focusing on ourselves right now.” This one is actually just more of a lie than it is a platitude, either way it should end up on the cutting room floor, just as much as the next one should.
5.) “We know they’re formidable/streaking right now/a good team despite their record. They are much better than their record/a much better team than the standings show/going to give us a much tougher game than it looks on paper.” Even Joe Paterno, who is actually one of the best soundbites you’ll find anywhere, recently gave this platitude to a reporter who was badgering him about his soft non-conference scheduling, saying Eastern Illinois was “a good football team.” Right that’s why it was like 70-3 by the end of the first half.
6.) “I care about winning/making the playoffs/getting to the championship/ the team first, I’m not concerned with individual honors/records/trophies/statistics.” I’ve pretty much given up asking any player anything about their stats or nominations for awards, because I know I’ll just hear “the only stat that matters are the Ws” and then I’ll desperately wish that I could have those minutes of my life back, because they were just utterly wasted.
7.) “I’m just happy to be here. As long as I keep doing my job, everything will work out/take care of itself/end up where we should.” I feel guilty and awful for even typing this one up, even the sole purpose was just to show how much of a mindless bromide it is.
8.) “We just need to make some plays/play at our tempo/go out there and execute/get better.” Yes, and…..do you care to be specific on how you plan to do that Captain Obvious?
9.) Whenever you ask any rivalry question, you might get “Well, their fans hate us and our fans hate them.” Yeah no shit Sherlock, care to add anything to that? And not be as boring as is humanly possible.
10.) “You don’t get too high after the wins, and you never get too low after the losses. It just all stays even keel” The FCC should start fining people who say this. It literally offends me.
11.) “We’re going to have to be ready to play, because you know they will.” I know George Carlin had a famous bit about the words you can’t say on television. These are words you just can’t say on sports programming- unless your motive is to turn your viewers away.
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