Saturday, January 22, 2011

Rant of the week

We're starting a new feature here at The View from Section 10--a regular post called "Rant of the week." Just like we have "Stat of the day" and such, this post will regularly call out some issue in the world of sports which justifies a rant from yours truly.

The "rant of the week," edition one, is the use of sports metaphors.

Now, if you're reading this blog, in all likelihood you are a fan of sports. And, chances are, you've used your share of sports metaphors. My issue is being questioned as to why I/we use sports metaphors.

I've recently been in meetings where a colleague has called out someone else in the meeting who, heaven forbid, referenced sports or used a sports metaphor. If I had a bit more "oomph" in my game, I would have called out that colleague by asking "what other area of popular or modern culture is as flexible, as sports, for this type of figure of speech?"

Think about it, does the world of entertainment offer such possibilities? Does the world of politics? How many politicians have you heard using sports metaphors? A lot--because it fits for most every situation in life!

Think about it:
- Most team sports are ripe with opportunity. Basketball, in particular, fits with what we experience in life. To be good in basketball, one has to shoot, pass, dribble, rebound and defend. There's the uniquely gifted player who can make everyone around him better. Likewise, there's the gifted player who cannot win unless he or she has others on his team who can play their respective roles. This also is the game which gave us John Wooden, one of the most profound thinkers and philosophers in the history of sport, and his all-time great quote, "It's amazing what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit."

- There are the individual sports, such as golf, where one competes against oneself in order to shoot a lower score. Every shot in golf over every round played is different--the lie of the ball, the yardage to the pin, the weather conditions, the pin placement and, of course, the psyche of the player on that given day as he/she stands over that particular shot. Does that sound like something which equates to life in business or as a parent? Uh, yeah!

- Finally, how about the athlete who has achieved greatness but, ultimately, must step away from the game he/she loves, whether due to declining ability, age, injury, or a combination of all these factors?

Yes, sports are a metaphor for life because sport imitates life...or life imitates sport. I'm not suggesting that those who don't follow sports convert in order to get into the sports metaphor game. No, I'm just saying that those who don't get or like sports metaphors should deal with it...or come up with some other area of our culture which is so ripe with metaphor possibilities.

That, my friends, is your rant for this week.

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