Saturday, March 05, 2016

Roxanne Snopek: When You Don’t Have Anything To Say…

Find a cliché!

I watch NHL hockey. I am Canadian, after all. Also, Fear the Walking Dead hasn’t started up again yet so I’ve got to do something, right? But you know what I’ve discovered to be at least as entertaining as the games? The post-game interviews. (Bear with me. I cheer for the Vancouver Canucks.)

As a professional wordsmith, I find these conversations fascinating in a can’t-stop-watching-the-car-wreck kind of way. After all, we’re taught to avoid clichés as lazy writing (note: the lazy use of the car-wreck analogy.) We strive for freshness in our language, a crisp twist of words to engage the reader.

Not so hockey players on TV, however. When those broadcasters shove their mics into all that muscle and sweat, you can practically watch the clichés forming, the scripts lining up, those carefully-coached words and phrases ready to fall out of those pretty, toothless mouths.

I could write the scripts. In fact, here’s one now:

Host: So, Ilya/Sergei/Mikhail, what were you thinking when you felt the puck on your stick in those last few seconds? (Or “How did you feel?” That’s a classic.)

Player: Well, James/Scott/Kevin, I am thinking I must to keep it away from their players, get it down ice and into net, fast as possible. (Hockey, in a nutshell.)

Host: I can believe that! Tell us what your team did today to achieve this stunning victory.

Player: Why you heff to esk? We give one-hundred-ten percent, we play as team, we push envelope right out of comfort zone, and at end of day that make the difference. No need for to reinvent tire. (He shoots, he scores, he passes Cliché 101!)

Host: What do you think is your secret to success?

Player: We go out strong and focus energy on puck, to be getting it in net. We keep simple and manage game. We play good road game. We take one game at time. Like I say, at end of day, game is what game is. (Now I understand hockey!!)

Host: Well there you have it folks, the secret to success! Congratulations again.

Player: Spasiba. Also, keep feet moving. Very important in hockey.

There you have it, indeed: the proper use of clichés, or What To Say When You Have Nothing To Say and You Just Want to Go to the Locker Room But Your Contract Stipulates You Must Play Nice With the Pretty TV Men.

At the end of the day, take it from me, it’s better to think outside the box, stand on your own two feet, swim against the tide, march to the beat of your own drummer and reinvent that wheel if you want to.

And if you’ve got nothing to say, it’s okay to be quiet. In fact, if anyone wants me… I’ll be reading.


girlygirlhoosier52 said...

Have you ever seen the movie Bull Durham??? With Susan Sarandon, Kevin Costner & Tim Robbins.... At some point, Kevin's character instructs Tim Robbins' character about clichés and sports... I worked in a college athletic dept. and I say it's a toss up between reporters asking the same stupid questions week after week..

Ada said...

LOLz, pretty bang on, Roxanne! I personally like the interviews in which the player repeats the question and then changes the sentence order to answer the question with the question. Now those take massive word-handling skills!

dstoutholcomb said...


I grew up watching the Flyers.