The Devil’s Sportswriting Dictionary

Ambrose Bierce’s ever-popular Devil’s Dictionary (responsible for witticisms like “lawyer: n,  One skilled in circumvention of the law”) could use a good update, and the people at Grantland have stepped in for a potential sportswriting section. For example,

courage (n.) — in sportswriting, two kinds of athletes are courageous: those who play hurt and those who play soon after the death of a loved one.

durability (n.) — a football player’s knack for surviving a sport everyone agrees is too violent.

heart (n.) — an elusive quality associated with a player or team. See “identity.”

identity (n.) — When a talented team plays badly, a sportswriter goes looking for qualities it might lack. “Heart” is usually the first of these. But a team like the 2012-13 Lakers — which has a mishmash of coaches and lineups — is said to lack an “identity.”

instant classic (n.) — a close game a sportswriter happened to watch live.

project (n.) — the opposite of a “sure thing.”

The only thing we’d add is,

Controversy (n.) — when commentators take differing positions by way of ignorance for the sake of ratings.


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