New Year, New Game

January 26th, 2017

There are several reasons sports metaphors so frequently make it into our lexicon:

People relate to life as a game; people somehow think the ability to play a game or coach it makes both player and coach hero and expert on life; they say some of the most outrageous things you’ve ever heard in your life; and writers can get lazy so all of that makes sports metaphors a tempting way to make a point.

Take this column, for instance.

And since we’re being brutally honest, here’s a sports metaphor for that.

When Bob Costas asked Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips why he takes his wife on all the road trips, Phillips responded:

“Because she’s too ugly to kiss goodbye.”

As published in The Memphis Daily News, January 27, 2017, and in The Memphis News, January 28-February 3, 2017

(photo: Frank Gifford, at war.)



“Sometimes they write what I say, not what I mean.” – former Cardinal, Dodger and major league MVP Pedro Guerrero, who obviously could have been president.

About this time last year, I offered a few fresh sports quotes to prepare us for the onslaught of stale sports metaphors in an election year. Well, the Super Bowl is on us, we’ve just kicked off a new administration, and since most of what our new president says is suitable for locker rooms, it’s only appropriate to look to sports again for meaning.

For instance, how is repealing the ACA no matter what like winning the Super Bowl? Well, like this: Upon hearing Joe Jacobi of the Redskins say, “I’d run over my own mother to win the Super Bowl,” Matt Millen of the Raiders said, “To win, I’d run over Joe’s mom, too.”

Or, if we think about a new finger on the button, Frank Gifford might come to mind, “Pro football is like nuclear warfare. There are no winners, only survivors.”

Or, say, on climate change, science, history and the like, former All-Star outfielder, Carl Everett offers the definitive word, “The Bible never says anything about dinosaurs. You can’t say there were dinosaurs when you never saw them. Someone actually saw Adam and Eve. No one ever saw a Tyrannosaurus Rex.” 

Or, on the value of education and intellectual pursuit, we can turn to Texas A&M basketball coach Shelby Metcalf’s reaction to a player’s grades of four F’s and one D, “Son, looks to me like you’re spending too much time on one subject.”

And when it comes to what happened in the election or what’s about to happen in Congress, much in sports reminds us of the depth of social media and the endless talking-head analysis in the 24/7 news cycle.

“Anytime Detroit scores more than 100 points and holds the other team below 100 points, they almost always win.” – NBA analyst Doug Collins

“We must have had 99 percent of the match, it was the other three percent that cost us.” – Dutch footballer Ruud Gullit

“Chemistry is a class you take in high school or college, where you figure out two plus two is 10, or something.” – Dennis Rodman 

“Therapy can be a good thing; it can be therapeutic.” – Alex Rodriguez

“As I remember it, the bases were loaded.” – Garry Maddox, when asked how he hit a grand slam.

Then, considering our new standards, inspiration by example is much easier to come by, and achievement is much easier to explain.

“I want to rush for 1,000 or 1,500 yards, whichever comes first.” – George Rogers

“I owe a lot to my parents, especially my mother and father.” – Greg Norman

“That’s so when I forget how to spell my name, I can still find my clothes.” – Chicago Blackhawk Stu Grimson, explaining why he keeps a color photo of himself above his locker.

I’m a Memphian, and it’s time to double-knot our shoes and tape up our socks – gonna be a helluva game.


Bill McCurdy: Beautiful column, Dan. Here a couple of quotes from Texas folk, the first of whom is seventy-year old Paul Berlin, a Memphis native and lifelong disk jockey. About his Memphian roots, he often said something that may be old news to the people of Memphis. Paul liked to say that "Memphis is the only city in the world that is both built on a bluff and run on one too." Back in 1925, Miriam "Ma" Ferguson was beginning her first term as the 1st female Governor of Texas. Ma was no politician but she ran and was elected to help her husband, Governor Jim Ferguson, beat the term limits law that had been put in place to forced him out of office. In the early going, she did act as the face of power, even if she were not. One of Ma's first challenges came from from Rio Grande Valley Latino residents who were lobbying for the State of Texas to support bilingual education in South Texas. Ma told the media she could not support bilingual education. "The way I figure it, if English alone was good enough for Jesus Christ, it ought to be good enough for the people of Texas." Regards, Bill McCurdy

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