In This League

     Out of all the sports talk clichés bandied about by radio commentators, announcers, athletes, and fans in general, “in this league” is quickly becoming the most prominent and annoying. In fact, the use of this term is an indication of how far this country’s collective intelligence has fallen; it doesn’t appear there’s much room for recovery either.
     “In this league, you can’t turn the ball over and expect to win football games.” A common refrain heard by fans across the country on Monday mornings, a common phrase tossed about network post-game shows, go-to material for a writer in deadline panic. A quick look at the phrase though shows just how shallow and utterly meaningless it is.
     First off, the use of the word “ball” eliminates hockey. Second, it is physically impossible to turn the ball over in baseball. So of the four major American team sports, that leaves two: football and basketball.
     You can’t turn the ball over and expect to win games in either sport. And it doesn’t matter which league or level you’re talking about, be it the NFL, NCAA, Pop Warner, the NBA, the CFL. It doesn’t matter which league, so why even say “in this league?”
     “In this league, you can’t commit stupid penalties.” How do you even respond to something so obvious? Again though, think about the statement. It can’t apply to baseball, and it applies equally to all other sports at all levels. It’s the definition of superfluous.
     It’s not just football that uses the phrase. The mullet-hairs on Vs. used it last night after the Pittsburgh/Philadelphia hockey game. I don’t watch much baseball, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the phrase has crept into the national pastime.
     “In this league” is nothing but wasted words, a way for commentators to sound authoritative and just a little more intelligent about the subject at hand than the vast majority of their listeners. If you think about it though, it just makes them sound like they’re either in love with the sound of their own voice, or they don’t put thought into what they’re saying.
     “In this league” has quickly joined the ranks of “Team X Nation” and “it is what it is” as the most annoying sports clichés of the decade. It doesn’t mean anything, and it won’t no matter how many reporters or talk jocks use it.

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