Sportscasters–Making up words, so you don’t have to


Puck-ality. Defense-ality. I never thought I’d hear these “words” spoken by anyone, let alone Olympic commentators who should know better.

Of course, the first one to utter an offense was the former Olympian and retired National Hockey League player. His word of of choice was “defense-ality” when what he meant was the lady hockey player’s level of play on defense was so high, she made a particularly great play. I can forgive athletes and any subject-matter-experts for verbal gaffes, because they’re not trained to speak correctly. They’re trained to give colorful commentary, hence the title, “color commentator.”

The professional, however, is trained to speak correctly. I know, because when I was first on the radio back in 1982, I had elocution lessons. I also had access to a pronunciation dictionary of world leaders, countries, colloquialisms, and other resources, so I wouldn’t make an error on-the-air. I’m sure, though, even without all those resources which, when you’re on television, are given to you in your ear by earwig as well as on your teleprompter and in your notes, this guy knew he was making up a word and making himself look stupid in the process. Yes, he, like all professional commentators seem to do these days, took the jock’s lead and created his own word for being extremely skillful with a puck.

You know, I know hockey is a fast-moving sport, but it isn’t so fast that you can’t   u-s-e   y-o-u-r   w-o-r-d-s   like the great Al Michaels to fully describe what’s happening on the ice–especially when that’s what you’re paid to do.

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