Jock Jargon

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Have you ever wondered what goes into the unique vocabulary that sports broadcasters use? Depending on the sport that is being covered, several oddball terms will be thrown out during the course of a broadcast that takes multiple hours. It takes distinct knowledge of the sport at hand to fully appreciate and understand the value of these terms. Yet, as prospective broadcasters, we can also recognize the special value these terms have to our profession.

As an example, how many times have you watched a baseball game and heard an announcer say the words “can of corn” when an easy fly-ball is hit to an outfielder? This term is central to the game of baseball and has practically been around since its inception. When listening to the call of a baseball game, we instantly know what is happening when we hear this phrase invoked. Thus, it has unique clarifying power to unite an audience.

Sticking with baseball, the term “gas” is often used to signify when a pitcher rears back to throw a hard fastball (usually between 95 and 100 mph). As one of the more colorful baseball terms known to man, this term adds special context to the style with which a pitcher is throwing. This term could be especially relevant during a radio broadcast. Since the listener cannot see the game unfolding in front of them, describing how hard a pitcher is throwing can give him/her a better idea of how the game is going.

In recent years, the concept of “posterizing” has made its way into broadcasting vernacular. Many basketball broadcasters make reference to this term when one player dunks over another, which often results in an emotionally charged moment. Ever since broadcasters started saying this term, posterizing has become a pop-cultural phenomenon, especially on pick-up basketball courts. Once again, this shows that the words we say as broadcasters can have wide-reaching impacts beyond the context of a single game.

Lastly, the game of football also provides broadcasters with peculiar phrases, including “laying the lumber”. This refers to when a defensive player makes a big hit on an offensive player, which can possibly result in a momentum swing in a game. When using this term on television or radio, broadcasters give us an idea of just how physical the play that just occurred was. This can give us as viewers/listeners confirmation that a game is being played in a physical fashion as opposed to a finesse one.

As you can see, every word a broadcaster says during a game can truly impact or even alter the way members of the audience view it. It is important to keep word choice in mind during a broadcast, as the use of interesting phraseology can make a game that much more entertaining for a viewer/listener. The ability to linguistically cater broadcasts to the audiences of a particular sport separate the great broadcasters from the good.

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