Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cliffs Notes and Cliches

This is a strange time of year for college football fans. On one hand, there’s a sense of relief that comes from having survived the drought of the offseason. Teams are practicing, media coverage is ramping up and before you know it, Brent Musberger will be telling us at what, exactly, we are looking live.

On the other hand, we’re not there quite yet, and it’s often those last few steps that’ll kill you. We still find ourselves languishing in this limbo that is equal parts excitement and frustration. As a semi, sometimes observant Jew, it reminds me of walking out of synagogue at the end of Yom Kippur – you’ve made it through the hard part, but until you’ve got some food in your mouth, the fast isn’t actually over.

And so we wait, our game day gear cleaned and pressed but still hanging in the closet, desperate for something – anything – to fill that void between now and kickoff. And the only thing there is to fill it with is talk. Talk from media days. Talk from preseason press conferences. Talk from post-practice interviews. Coaches across the country are stepping behind microphones and loading up reporters’ notebooks with quote after quote, and they’re all singing a similar tune – that their team has never worked harder, has never been stronger and has never been more prepared to take the field. And we, in turn, are digesting, dissecting and discussing every last bit of it as if it’s gospel.

The only problem is that it’s anything but.

Like preseason polls and zip codes, it’s all meaningless – not that that is some sort of groundbreaking revelation. After all, the term “coach-speak” has been around ever since the first coach gave his first interview and gave birth to the first set of clich├ęs. It’s what coaches do, and rationally, we don’t expect anything different from them. We understand that they’re not going to throw their guys under the bus or declare a season dead before a down is played. What would be the point? The (monumental) risk for being honest and revealing simply isn’t worth the (nonexistent) reward.

But as someone who watches countless press conferences and reads countless quotes, I am still struck by how the exact same stuff is said year after year after year. I mean, the exact same stuff. It’s honestly a little uncanny, and I can’t help wondering if coaches are just taking the path of least resistance, or if they could actually be driven by some other deep-seeded motivation.

Beyond basic political correctness, could there really be something more to coach-speak?

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Day Late, A Buck Short

In a constantly connected world, I’m decidedly disconnected.

And honestly, this is largely by design. I only check my email every so often. I check my voicemail even less. And I was probably one of the last people on the planet (with the financial wherewithal) to get a smart phone – which I now almost exclusively use to look at weather forecasts or to read about sports when I’m waiting at a doctor’s office.

It’s not that I’m antisocial. Okay, well it kind of is, but there’s something more to it than that, something much deeper – and something that’s not all that healthy.

There’s this fear I have about what’s potentially waiting for me in each of my respective mailboxes. Is there going to be bad news? Am I going to get sucked into doing something I don’t want to do? Would I really have to pay $69.99 in order to grow four – six inches in all the right places?

My mind conjures up all of these nightmare scenarios, and instead of taking the messages head on – and most likely discovering there’s nothing to worry about – I avoid and evade them for as long as possible, until I’m mentally and emotionally ready to deal with whatever (perceived) peril or danger might be lurking inside them.

It’s the “Ignorance is bliss” strategy – what I don’t know can’t hurt or burden me.

I concede that this behavior is a little ridiculous, and more than just a little rude. It’s led me to leave people hanging entirely too long for a response, and it’s made me abhorrently late with birthday wishes (those reminder emails don’t help if you don’t read them on time). It’s even caused me to miss out on seeing friends who were in town, because I didn’t know they were around until it was too late.

But despite all of the bad it causes, there is actually one area where it does do me some good:

Watching sports. Or more specifically, watching recorded sports.

About Me

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"It's not a lie, if you believe it." Those were the words of one of my generation's great sages, George Costanza, and the more of life I experience, the truer they ring. And while I still haven't found what I'm looking for, the search for my own personal "truths" is never-ending. Care to come along for the ride?