CHARLOTTE, NC: It’s amazing how many sports jargon terms manage to creep their way into our everyday vernacular, especially in the world of business. Here some more common expressions we hear each day at work. They have all come from our passion for sports on television on weekends.
Covering all the bases —
Since it’s currently baseball season we begin with a phrase that business people know means to be prepared for all contingencies. In baseball, when the bases are loaded, particularly with less than two outs, it is important to have defensive players near each base to try to prevent a run from scoring.
Hands down —
This term derives from horse racing when “winning hands down” means a jockey releases his hold on the reins because victory is certain. In business, it relates to accomplishing a task with ease.
Level the playing field —
Typically this expression refers to soccer or rugby where a pitch, or field, might slope, especially in the early days of competition. In order to make conditions fair for both sides teams switched ends at halftime. The end of each quarter in American football.
Speaking of football, there are multiple references to the terminology of America’s favorite team sport. In football, a quarterback is in charge and directs the team’s offense. The same is true in business where a project coordinator is often referred to as the team “quarterback.”
Carry the ball —
A term related to the quarterback but not necessarily referring to him. This is the person who ensures that a project is completed within the prescribed parameters and guidelines. It can be the quarterback in football, but it is always the most reliable and respected player.
Call an audible —
A great expression because it deals with making a last minute change or adjustment. When a quarterback “calls an audible” at the line, it is because he sees a change or weakness in the defense. A business will often do the same thing to counter the competition to gain an advantage.
End around —
An attempt to bypass opposition by changing directions to attack a weakness in the competition. In football, it’s tactic to run around your own line of players and toward the goal.
Run interference — Problem-solving for someone else, much like a blocker in football who tries to make a path for the ball carrier to run through.
Full-court press —
A basketball strategy where defenders put pressure on the opposing team over the entire court in an attempt to force a turnover by making it more difficult to set their offense in motion. Corporations sometimes use a similar strategy to apply intense pressure on their competition.
An imposter who misrepresents their identity to gain an advantage. In team sports, a ringer is often an n unknown athlete who joins a team under false pretenses in order to strengthen the team.
A person’s area of expertise. In baseball, when a pitcher throws to a batter’s “wheelhouse” he is challenging the hitter’s strength where he is most likely to make contact with the ball.
Wild goose chase —
The pursuit of something unattainable or a useless effort. The genesis if the term comes from equestrian sports referring to a method of horse racing in which the riders follow the lead horse at a set distance, mimicking wild geese flying in formation.
How did fluke come to mean an unexpected stroke of luck. It first appeared in the mid-1800s as a billiards term. At the time, shooting pool meant having a considerable amount of luck due to the warping of the old ivory billiard balls.
Combined with the fact that in Old English fluke means “guess,” gives a strong indication of its origin.
By the 1880s, “fluke” began to be used in other contexts. As more sustainable, durable materials began being used for billiard balls, the need for flukes was minimized by more skilled billiards players.
These are just for starters. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of sports jargon words we use. Like “backs to the wall”, “three strikes, you’re out” and “do or die situation” to mention a few.
Adding to the color of the language there are also war terms which have become everyday expressions in sports as well such as; “blitz”, “bomb” or “in the trenches” but we’ll save those for another trivial excursion.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor is an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is the founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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