Being out-athleted

Aren’t college football coaches also members of the faculty, teaching students? I pose the question following a weekend in which the two football teams I support as a loyal fan both suffered humiliating losses. This happens sometimes, of course, but the cloud of disappointment tends to fade away by Monday morning. It is only a game, after all, and life does go forward.

This time, though, I am left with an unpleasant aftertaste brought on by a nagging question prompted by the propensity of American television sports analysts to embarrass themselves and disgust with their audiences with their disrespectful treatment of the principal tool of their trade —  the English language.

These analysts, also called color announcers, sit with the main play-by-play announcer and, following each play, offer their analysis of what just happened and how the players involved and coaches might execute their jobs better. Some of these guys are ex-players, many second-guess the actual coaches. Some are former coaches, which was the case as I watched a game this past Saturday. A few actually know what they are talking about.

This is why I ask whether as coach the man I was listening to actually served on the faculty of a university, teaching students. If so, he shouldn’t have, I offer just a brief sample of his comments to support my point.

“He should have ran . . .”

“Their defense is gonna get absolutely wore out.”

“That team got out-athleted on that play.” (Is athleted a word?)

“Those guys shine-ed . . . “

He might also have been auditioning for a job as color announcer for big-time National Football League games as he on a few occasions followed a subject noun immediately with a pronoun (examples: “Miami, they . . .” “This quarterback, he . . .”) This is a favorite language fumble executed repeatedly on Sunday afternoons by one of the NFL’s former quarterbacks, now serving as a popular color announcer at games.

One might reasonably expect this person and the former college coach to have at some point in their lives earned degrees at universities where they should have been required to communicate with proper English on their term papers, if not in conversation. That they are now employed as professional communicators wonders me, as the Amish might say.



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