Professional athletes and their coaches (many of whom used to be professional athletes) are notorious for butchering metaphors, analogies and clichés in media interviews. I’ll admit to flubbing a few of these well intentioned lines in my day, as well. But, some professional athletes are in an entirely different league when it comes to the succession of incongruous or ludicrous comparisons that come out of their mouths each and every day. Here are a few of my favorites that I’ve recently heard:
- “Left hand, right hand, it doesn’t matter. I’m amphibious” -- Professional basketball player
- “Can’t let one bad apple spoil the whole ball of wax” – Professional baseball manager
- “I don’t want to shoot my mouth in my foot, but those are games we can win” – Professional football player
- “I can see the light at the end of the tightrope” – Former professional basketball player. Now team president.
What’s my point (you might be thinking)? I’ll tell you.
When athletes make the jump from amateur to professional levels these days, they have a thousand and one counselors/coaches/mentors available to them. These experts try to teach them everything from how to save and invest their new found money (that is still a tricky one for many), to quickly become more mature and professional in how they handle themselves in the public (off the field or court), to dealing with the mental and physical grind of long, tedious seasons that they’ve never experienced before. But, are they ever coached or provided any guidance on how to become better public speakers… especially during press interviews?
Probably not. And, this reality is a real mistake. When these celebrities come across so poorly in the public eye, it only reflects negatively on them. Sure, they might have high paying jobs now, but, on average, most will be looking for a new career in two to four years. Whether they want to use their notoriety to move into a public broadcasting job or something else, those who speak as if they are uneducated, will probably face much longer odds of ever landing that next job they really want. It also becomes problematic when that first “crisis” strikes and those naïve and often inarticulate athletes are now in a panic situation, but have never been properly trained on how to communicate beforehand. Instead, irony hits hard after the crisis hits when dozens of “close confidants” come to their side, offering lots of advice on what to say and how to say it. Unfortunately at that point, it’s often too late.
This post keeps bringing me back to one of my favorite movies, Bull Durham. Remember when Kevin Costner’s character (Crash Davis) started to mentor “Meat” (the highly uncivilized pitching prodigy that Tim Robbins played). After Costner witnessed Meat’s horrendous interviewing skills, he said to him.”You’re gonna have to learn your clichés. You’re gonna have to study them. You’re gonna have to know them. They’re your friends. Write this down -- we gotta play it one day at a time.”
If only every professional athlete had his own Crash Davis, the sports world would be so much better off (at least better spoken).
Have you recently heard any mixed metaphors or just plain bad quotes that are hilarious? Would love to hear your thoughts.