Pedersen on Sports

Our sports guy unveils an award slightly more relevant than an ESPY, while slightly less so than a People's Choice Award

Of course, this is a column. Obviously, it has words. And if I try hard enough, I might set a new record for the use of unnecessary word usage. If the people broadcasting sports on TV and radio can do it, why can't I?

I've always had a soft spot for stupidity, usually taking joy and pleasure in hearing how dumb people can sound when they try to sound smart. But the inclusion of completely pointless qualifiers and add-on statements has reached epidemic level, to the point where I can no longer snicker at an announcer's lethargic loquaciousness. Instead, it angers the trained journalist in me.

The inspiration for this column—so you know who to blame—comes from a Twitter account called Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing), which tracks the many dumb things said by sports talking heads in their attempts to come off as well-read and well-rounded. AA has gone so far as to give out awards, called "Pammies" (named after notorious nonsense-spouter Pam Ward), to each week's greatest WTF utterances.

But the Pammies are more about announcers saying things that just don't make sense, such as when former UA lineman Glenn Parker so deftly noted that "everything feeds off everything else" during an ASU-Oregon State game on the Pac-12 Network. It made me actually wish, for a brief moment, that I had DirecTV.

Stupid sayings and attempts to sound splendiferous (cough, Dan Dierdorf, cough) are all around, and will never go away. And I could do a whole column on the double entendres of sports analysis—"feeling the penetration from the backside" or "going to the bench to get a blow"—but I'll save that for the Tucson Weekly After Dark edition.

No, my time atop this soapbox is devoted to calling out a series of words, statements, explanations and qualifiers that I've seen far too often in print and used way too much on the air. I'm sure most people don't even notice—or frankly don't care—but my OCD and journalism background won't allow me to let it go.

Instead, I react like an Arizona Interscholastic Association official when rain is in the forecast: I must put a stop to it.

The infractions are countless, but here's my semishort list of the most egregious written and verbal foibles that, as Peter Griffin would say, really grind my gears:

"Obviously" and "of course" Beyond all others, these terms are being thrown about with such abandon by radio and TV broadcasters that they've become the adult version of a third-grader saying "um" 47 times during a three-minute class presentation.

In case you weren't aware, these terms are meant to express certainty in one's opinion of something. For instance, obviously this is a topic that matters more to me than anyone else, and of course I'm making way too big a deal of it.

But this is how they're being used, based on my completely unscientific research (listening to TV and reading Twitter):

The Lions and Eagles obviously are playing in a snowstorm.

Of course, Arizona is No. 2 in this week's Top 25 poll.

Sam Bradford is, of course, out for the year with a torn ACL.

The Miami Heat are obviously the defending NBA champions.

Washington hired Boise State's Chris Petersen after Steve Sarkisian, of course, left for USC.

Those are all statements of fact, which do not require the use of qualifiers like "of course" or "obviously." Yet there they are. And of course the people saying or writing them obviously feel the use of these terms helps drive home their ability to recite unchallenged nuggets of information.

"The two teams" The vast majority of team competitions involve two teams. Unless we're talking about something like a high school track meet or a wrestling triangular, it's going to involve two teams.

So why, then, must broadcasters, reporters, TV anchors and the like refer to "the two teams" when discussing a game? Is it because just saying "the teams" might leave too much to the imagination? There seems to be an overwhelming need to overexplain things—which is understandable, since in journalism school we were told newspapers are supposed to reflect the average adult's reading level, which sadly is eighth or ninth grade — but this is ridiculous.

Now, once we start having three basketball teams playing at the same time (which would be awesome, by the way) we can revisit this topic.

"Set a new record" What other kind of record can you set? When you break the existing record (therefore, no reason to say someone broke the "old" record), that means the record you've set is new. Enough said.

TV people are really big on overdoing this, along with talking about a player "scoring a new career-high" in points.

"(1-0)" One of the first things I learned from Peter Madrid, my sports editor at the Tucson Citizen when I started covering high school sports as a college sophomore, was the importance of putting teams' records in a story. It helps explain how good or bad a team is, among other things.

And that info was quickly enhanced by what the Citizen's assistant sports editor, Dave Petruska, added to that lesson: You don't need to put records in when it was the first game of the season.

But I've seen way too many instances where an article will note that "Santa Rita (1-0) beat Rincon/University (0-1) in the season opener for both teams."

At least it didn't say the two teams.

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