Writer steps up, gets pumpedand gives 110% for this column

As I have interviewed coaches and players during the fall sports season, I have begun to notice the cliches that have popped up. Some are cliches of the ages; others are relatively new, corresponding to the younger generation’s vocabulary. Here is a list of the top ten phrases that appear often when the record button is on. After each cliche, I have given an alternative response.

10) One game at a time. This is standard fare by coaches who don’t want their team looking ahead to a more challenging game while taking for granted the game at hand against a team that they should beat in their sleep. Is there such a thing as playing two games at a time? Alternative: This team can’t carry our equipment bag; let’s move on to bigger things.

9) Give the other team credit. You are always talking to the winning coach when you hear this. It is a politically correct way to say that the other team was very weak, but at least they didn’t walk off the field at halftime. Alternative: This pathetic team needs to scout their halls to see if they have any real athletes.

8) Play hard for 48 minutes. This is a player’s way to say that he and his teammates are too studly for words. Would they ever admit to being soft as a Pillsbury doughboy? Sometimes used by coaches to emphasize to players who don’t know how long the game lasts. Alternative: Play just hard enough and just long enough to win.

7) The important thing is to have fun. This is from a coach who is already winning regularly or losing a little too much. It’s sister cliche is “it’s just a game.” Somewhere along the line, things are out of control. Alternative: The fun begins when we are destroying every team every game.

If it’s a parent saying this, the phrase would be, “The fun begins when my child is the star or at least playing a lot.”

6) Any use of the word execute. This is a coach’s way to say my players did what I asked them to do. You would never hear this if the players didn’t seem to have a clue. Alternative: I am a genius; I’m grateful the kids understand this.

5) Stay focused. This is pretty much the opposite of “execute”. Athletes apparently aren’t doing what they are told. Their minds are on other more important things such as Saturday night’s date. If an athlete says this, he agrees that he should probably recognize that he is in the middle of a game. Alternative: The players don’t quite recognize my genius all the time.

4) Step it up. An athlete generally states this, saying that we haven’t really been trying. I guess we should give it a shot. More often than not, they mean, “the other players need to improve their game because I am at the top of my game already.” Alternative: My teammates should try to emulate my level of play.

3) Shot ourselves in the foot. Explanation: we played poorly. The players didn’t listen to the coach. When are they going to start listening to the coach? I wonder what the origin of this cliche is. Alternative: We stink.

2) We’re pumped. A new generation term meaning they actually care about the outcome of the game. It is gradually replacing “fired up”. Previously, they weren’t all that excited, but now they have taken some interest. It usually follows a great play that they may not have expected. Alternative: Did you see us/me play? Are we (or am I) good or what?

1) Give it 110%. No matter how many times people are told, they just don’t get it. There is no such thing as 110%. What it really means is that they haven’t been trying before; now they will give a rip for the first time. Alternative: I will give what I consider to be my best. Whether it is or not, I’m going to say it is.

I do want to send a shout out (younger generation term) to Coach Younger for his attempt to create a new cliche as stated in another newspaper: hang dog, down. No one is sure what he was talking about, including himself. I think it means “a negative attitude when facing adversity.”

We are also not sure why the comma is used.

So here’s to our football team. May their character shine through during the playoffs. This is the best advice I can give them this week. Stay focused on Marist and play hard for 48 minutes. Take it one game at a time. Give Marist credit; they aren’t rated number one for nothing. If everybody steps it up and gives 110%, the odds increase that you will execute Coach Younger’s game plan to perfection. That is as long as you don’t shoot yourself in the foot. But if you encounter a bad break in the game, don’t get hang dog, down. Stay pumped. And just remember, the important thing is to have fun.