Tag Archives: language

Soft Footballs?


Seriously? Those bad boys on Team Patriots. Serving up underinflated balls? Yes, I can only imagine the lewd comments from some of my friends to that line. But I can think of no better way to state the problem. The crime! The unthinkable! There are so many issues revolving around this dirty deed that I can’t even begin to go there. The most disturbing thing of all: Jane Watkins is writing a blog about football. In spite of his continual coaching, I still can’t remember what Bob told me is an offsides infraction. [For strictly educational purposes—thus making my blog an educational endeavor—I offer the following definition: In gridiron football, offside is a foul in which a player is on the wrong side of the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. This foul occurs simultaneously with the snap. Unlike offensive players, defensive players are not compelled to come to a set position before the snap.]

One of these quarterbacks has underinflated balls. Let’s just say you can’t judge a book by its cover.
What? It’s not me? I’m sexy too!

I can’t even recall what I’ve been told countless times are touchbacks. [Again, In American football, a touchback is a ruling which is made and signaled by an official when the ball becomes dead on or behind a team’s own goal line (i.e., in an end zone) and the opposing team gave the ball the momentum, or impetus, to travel over or across the goal line.]

HOWEVER, I believe I do know injustice and downright tomfoolery when I see it. When the Patriots’ deceit aired on the news earlier this week, Bob and I made a collective gasp at the treachery. Then what can only be described as “a knowing glance” shot between the two of us. Our Denver Broncos! Research shows that the Broncos have lost five of the last six games with the Patriots. Now we know why! It couldn’t have been our offense. I mean really. We have Peyton Manning. Shabby defense? Give me a break! They were the ones with the underinflated balls. (EEEKK.) I mean to say, they were fighting against an offense with underinflated balls. [Something I ALWAYS suspected about the Patriots.]

I know what my critics are about to say: altitude. That’s right . . . not attitude, but altitude. In The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, Levine, Stray-Gunnersen, and Mehta state the case in their abstract for this scholarly article: Altitude will impact football performance through two separate and parallel pathways related to the hypobaric (physical) and hypoxic (physiological) components of terrestrial altitude: (a) the decrease in partial pressure of oxygen reduces maximal oxygen uptake and impairs ‘‘aerobic’’ performance by reducing maximal aerobic power, increasing the relative intensity of any given absolute level of work, and delaying recovery of high-energy phosphates between high-intensity ‘‘interval’’ type efforts; (b) the decrease in air density reduces air resistance which will facilitate high-velocity running, but will also alter drag and lift thereby impairing sensorimotor skills. These effects appear to have their greatest impact very early in the altitude exposure, and their physiological/neurosensory consequences are ameliorated by acclimatization, though the extent of restoration of sea level type performance depends on the absolute magnitude of the competing and living altitudes.

Oz showing next running play to Scarecrow.
Oz showing next running play to Scarecrow.

If you read that entire passage you may understand why my quoting this makes me feel like I’m the Scarecrow reciting the Pythagoras Theorem right after receiving the much sought after Th.D. diploma [Dr. of Thinkology]. Yet I must cite this for those skeptical of the Broncos losses to the Patriots. First, if the Patriots are at an altitudinal disadvantage, the Broncos are just as compromised in that heavy New England air. Second, the Broncos are not responsible for the effect of altitude on the Mile High City; the Patriots and their underinflated balls, not so much! [I realize that I could be using the word footballs rather than balls, but I do so love double entendre.]

Now for the two most compelling issues for this blogger:

1) The punishment for this is $25,000? Seriously? What NFL team wouldn’t pay $25,000 each and every time they play if it would skew a victory their way? Most NFL players could drop $25,000 just for a new watch. Team owners? A trusty source tells me that they wipe with $100 bills. You must search your own heart to decide what they are wiping.

Hint, hint . . . .
Hint, hint . . . .

I say let the punishment fit the crime! The Boston Globe states: If the Patriots are found to have deliberately doctored footballs, the organization can be fined a minimum of $25,000, and if the NFL finds the incident egregious, the Patriots could potentially lose a draft pick. In 2007, Commissioner Roger Goodell took away a first-round draft pick and fined Patriots coach Bill Belichick after determining the team had spied on an opponent. Yes, friends. They were punished in 2007 for “Spygate.” Now we are looking at “Deflategate.” [I SO didn’t make that up. See The Globe!] $25,000? Loss of a first-round draft pick? Give me a break. Let’s levy justice and make them FORFEIT THE GAME.

2) My second issue has nothing to do with football, but more to do with constant abuse of the English language. My dearest friends will not be surprised at my angst at hearing commentators constantly speaking of “soft footballs.” This is the way they are referring to the underinflated footballs. Think of it this way: I’m a sales clerk trying to sell you a sweater saying, “You will love this one! It is as soft as an underinflated football!” Or you are a guest in my home and I offer you my favorite blanket saying, “You will feel so cozy with this blanket. It is as soft as an underinflated football!”

Light bulb moment: TV commercial blares “Try the all new Belichick Fabric Softener! Your clothes will come out of the dryer as soft as underinflated footballs!” Yeah. I’m so gonna buy that.

You! Buy my fabric softener. I'm soaking in it. And I'm just a big ole softie. Yessiree. I'm soft as an underflated football.
You! Buy my fabric softener. I’m soaking in it. And I’m just a big ole softie. Yessiree. I’m soft as an underinflated football.

I believe this particular rant has spent itself out. So, with apologies to my dear sweet friends who are Patriots fans, I leave you with this idea. Let’s not call these underinflated footballs since it leaves way too much room for double entendre. Let’s not call these soft footballs since it is just gauche and grammatically poor. Let’s call them exactly what they are: Patriot Missiles! If you doubt that, just ask the Colts.

Nota bene: Ultra Grip Technology. GRRRR. You . . . you . . . bags of underinflated wind!

Words, Sweet Words

This week saw a first: the Scripps Spelling Bee had a tie! This happened after the final two contestants each spelled 12 of the championship words without mistake. Then, in a dramatic moment, one of the fellows misspelled his word: CORPSBRUDER (a close comrade). A gasp went up as the bell announced his failure to spell the word. The last man standing then proceeded to misspell his word: ANTEGROPELOS (waterproof leggings). At that point, the judges, who were almost out of championship words, declared the bee a tie and each fellow received a trophy and $33,000.


2014 Scripps Spelling Bee Winners

I always find this interesting because I dearly love words. Some words are more favored over others. For instance I truly love the phrases high jinx and doo-dah, and the word mellifluous. Great words can be found in some unexpected places. For example, my class in medical terminology uncovered such fabulous finds as acetabulum, trichotillomania, myelomeningocele, and on and on. And doesn’t the word proctologist sound just like it should? The amusement over medical terms has created several lists defining these terms. For example, a list from some imaginary “Redneck Medical Dictionary” lists the following definitions, to cite only a few: bacteria = back door of hospital cafeteria; artery = study of art; protein = in favor of youth; rectum = nearly killed ‘em.


I like the sound of the word nebulous for some unknown reason. I used to pepper my sentences with it whenever it fit (which was amazingly quite often). One day a friend instructed me that I was overusing the word and no one knew what it meant anyway . . . and (knife to my heart) it made me appear holier-than-thou when I used it. I suppose it made me sound pseudo-scholarly, which phrase I like for its hissing sounds. It is so much more fun than pseudo-intellectual, which I could never be since I am truly so outrageously intelligent. If you don’t believe me, you should have asked my mother. I really had her fooled.


The Fabulous Crab Nebula

Speaking of pseudo, Starbucks has created an entire vocabulary that has us thinking we have made friends with our inner Italian. We toss such words as macchiato and frappuccino around with such abandon, continuing with our java-Italian by requesting that drink to be “grande . . .  no, no . . . make that venti . . .  no, no . . .  what the heck . . . make it a trenta!” Such moments make me sad that I left my soccer shin guards and my beret at home. Food, in itself is an entire United Nations of terms: vichyssoise, borscht, aperitif, flan, bouillabaisse, schnitzel, and farfalle.

I have always believed that one should never talk down to children. So I spoke to them just like I would have chatted with an adult. This led to a Kodak moment in the grocery store with my three children. The store was crowded with Saturday’s parade of working moms, pushing carts down the aisles like a platoon. My children sped on ahead of me rounding the end of the aisle and moving down into the next. I could hear their voices and whining from one aisle over. Within seconds, Stacy, all of three years old with hands on her hips, came to head of the aisle and shouted, “MOM!” which caused every woman in the aisle to look up. When she found my face she screamed: “Make the brothers quit antagonizing me!” Suddenly all eyes were on me; I’d like to think this was with envy over my toddler’s precocious vocabulary, but a few stares had an edgy look as if they might turn me in to DCFS for child abuse by use of highfalutin’ language. By third grade, her teacher told me in confidence that she had a better vocabulary than most of the parents of her classroom children.


Interestingly enough, it wasn’t Stacy, but Scott, my middle child, who became fascinated with words. He would look words up in one of those HUGE dictionaries that lived in the back of his Latin class. Then he would spring those words on me, much like the kids in the spelling bee. “Use it in a sentence,” I would say, with a confounded look on my face. When his Latin teacher, a jolly and patient Jesuit priest, retired he gave Scott the big old dictionary. I will always love him for being so special to Scott and acknowledging that Scott was, indeed, a sesquipedalian. And that, my friends, is my most favorite word.