It's March Madness and everyone is filling out their bracket, so this is a perfect time go run through 64 of our favorite sports cliches, and determine our own Final Four, especially since you will probably be hearing some of these phrases uttered over and over during the next few weeks. Shouts to the Sports Cliche website for providing most of these and another shoutout to all the players, coaches and announcers who have helped make all these cliches part of our regular everyday lexicon.
64. He gave 110 percent.
It seems insulting that players to assign only an extra 10 percent to players who go above and beyond the maximum capacity of effort. I would argue that some players give 150 percent, or even 600 percent.
63. We've got a real barnburner.
The phrase barnburner actually comes from a faction of people from the 1800s Democratic Party in New York, who were so zealous for reforms they said they would "burn the barn to get rid of the rats." It's unclear how this made it into the sports lexicon, but it still doesn't make sense to me every time I hear it.
62. You can feel the momentum swinging.
You cannot actually feel momentum. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.
61. The competitive juices are flowing.
(See: you can feel the momentum swinging.)
60. They've got tremendous mental toughness.
Mental toughness is impossible to measure. (See: you can feel the momentum swinging and the competitive juices are flowing.)
59. He does all the little things.
This is like setting the bar low for the scrappy, deceptively athletic guy on your team. Also, I would love someone to describe LeBron James as someone who does all the big things.
58. He's just a natural born leader.
Nobody is born to lead. You have to learn how to be a leader.
57. We're taking it one game at a time.
A wonderful cliche when athletes and coaches want to keep things very close to their vest. Bonus points for this cliche because it has been taken and modified and popularized by Bill Belichick, who uses the "We're on to [next opponent's name]" mantra and turned this cliche into something cooler.
56. It's do or die right now.
It's technically never actually do or die in a sports game, like ever.
55. They're a real Cinderella story.
There's only one real Cinderella story and also this does a huge disservice to every other underdog movie plot that has ever existed.
54. They're a team of destiny.
To be a team of destiny would mean there are external forces at play which would make the entire sporting experience very disappointing to know that results are actually pre-determined.
53. They have to remember what got them here.
Remembering the past doesn't guarantee that players can duplicate the results in the present.
52. I'd go to battle with him any day.
Listen, I can't say this for even the closest of my friends out there. Some days, I am not going to be willing to get up and even get out of the house let alone tell anyone I would go to battle with them any day of the week. That's a lot of pressure.
51. He's all heart.
He's also all of the other physical limbs that he's using to compete at a high level in this sporting game.
50. He knows what it takes to win.
There is no actual formula to winning. Sometimes you try your best and you don't succeed, which is also a lyric from a popular Coldplay song.
49. He does things that don't show up in the stat column.
This is actually an indictment on how antiquated our stats columns are in sports because at this point, with advanced metrics and every way to measure a player's value, everything should show up on a stats column, even things that people do that don't currently show up.
48. No lead is safe.
This is technically not true since many leads in sports history have ended up being safe and have held up over time.
47. I'm really proud of the way our guys hung in there.
My favorite cliche when a team is shorthanded or loses a close game. A loss is a loss!
46. A win is a win.
On the other hand, a win is a win! It's so hard to argue against this. This is one of life's principles: if it's a win, sometimes you don't have to think about the process too much and just be proud of getting a W!
45. We're going to use this win as a building block.
Sports is not Jenga. (Also see: we're taking it one game at a time.)
44. We finally got the monkey off our backs.
We need an official ruling of when the proverbial monkey hopped onto someone's back before I can take this cliche seriously.
43. We made our own breaks.
Sometimes the other team's deficiencies actually creates those breaks.
42. This team always seems to find a way to win.
No team has ever lived up to this cliche. Otherwise, we would be celebrating a team that has never lost.
41. We shocked the world.
Even the most watched sporting event was viewed by approximately 360 million people, which still doesn't cover the entire world.
40. 10 seconds is like an eternity.
No, it's really just 10 seconds, don't let all the commercials fool you.
39. The ball had eyes.
The ball did not have eyes.
38. Pound-for-pound, he's the best fighter in the world.
We need an actual per pound comparison of every fighter to actually determine this.
37. He has unlimited potential.
Even the greatest players in the world don't have potential that is unlimited, or maybe this is what Michael Jordan meant when he said "the ceiling is the roof."
36. He's lost a step or two.
A step or two seems generous. Other times, players lose five to six steps, which we never acknowledge.
35. We dug deep ... deeper than we've ever dug before.
Great imagery, but otherwise, the rules of digging deep have never been defined so this statement cannot be taken at face value.
34. It doesn't get any better than this.
I would like to think even when an athlete achieves his greatest goal, that there are still better things in life ahead, like living a long, healthy life and other things outside of sports.
33. Those comments were taken out of context.
They're usually not, but this is a great cliche to start an apology to diffuse an awkward situation after terrible comments have been made and taken within context.
32. The fans are getting their money's worth.
Have you been to a sporting event lately and found a parking spot near the arena that's not at least $40? Fans are not getting their money's worth, I promise!
31. You can't teach that.
Most things, including skills that require to play sports, are in fact taught.
30. They play the right way.
Playing the right way is an unwritten and undefined rule. Games are meant to be played in every single way you prefer, mostly at the discretion of your head coach.
29. We came out a little more focused this game knowing there was no tomorrow.
There's usually tomorrow.
28. When it rains it pours.
Otherwise it's just a drizzle.
27. It's a game of inches.
This is technically not true unless the game really is decided by an inch, like Mike Jones tackling Kevin Dyson just short of scoring a touchdown in Super Bowl XXXIV. Other times, it's a game of a lot of inches and yards, like the Eagles converting a 4th and 26 in the playoffs against the Packers:
26. You couldn't have written a better script.
You can always write a better script in sports, even when there are crazy endings and improbable comebacks. The possibility in a fictional script is endless, whereas actual sporting events can only come very, very close to duplicating our made-up world. Also the best part about sports is that it is not scripted, which makes this cliche counterintuitive.
25. Defense wins championships.
A pretty good defense is a key ingredient to winning a championship in any sport, but you technically have to score more points than the other team to win anything.
24. Nobody believed in us!
There's always a fan out there believing in the team they are rooting for, although I will allow the use of this cliche if and only if when a No. 16 seed beats a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
23. He's a proven winner.
Even proven winners lose.
22. It's us against the world.
It is never you against the entire world. It's always just one team against another team.
21. The prevent defense prevents you from winning.
Sometimes. Other times it prevents you from messing up.
20. We wanted it more.
Both teams usually want the same result.
19. You win as a team, you lose as a team.
I would argue that you mostly win because your best player was better than the other team's better player, and you also you lose because your best player wasn't as good as the other team's best player.
18. We don't care about moral victories.
Having seen many individual celebrations during garbage time and football players celebrating sacking the quarterback when their team is down three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, I'm going to say athletes care about moral victories within the context of a loss.
17. We beat ourselves.
Always thought this only applies if you're Tyler Durden in "Fight Club."
16. They have unbelievable chemistry.
It's crazy how we only hear about great chemistry when teams are winning and then about how the chemistry is falling apart when the team is losing. A classic chicken or the egg situation.
15. He's in a league of his own.
Technically, everyone is in the same league competing against each other. Related: I'm very fun at parties.
14. He silenced all the critics.
Scroll through the Twitter mentions of any athlete. It is actually not possible to silent every single critic in the world.
13. He can carry the team on his shoulders.
This would result in a long-term injury that would probably last four-to-six weeks so it's actually not that heroic if it actually happened.
12. He's got ice-water in his veins.
Probably best summed up by The Onion who had a headline in 2009 titled "More and more athletes getting ice water injected into veins." Also I would like to believe most of my favorite athletes are succeeding with room temperature level blood in their veins. But shouts to D'Angelo Russell for making sure this cliche will live on.
11. He has a tireless work ethic.
You can't really have a tireless work ethic since working makes you tired and tireless implies that you are incapable of feeling tired which defeats the point of working out in the first place.
10. He brought his A-game today.
We only hand out grades when the player is scoring an A. I would like one announcer to say he brought his D- game today when a player is being lazy on defense and shooting 1-for-12 from the field. We need report cards for everything.
9. This team is not going to sneak up on anybody.
A rare cliche that is actually true, since no one actually sneaks up on anybody anymore given the amount of coverage every sports team receives.
8. This team takes on the personality of their coach.
An entire team of human beings assuming the personality of a single coach sounds like the plot of a science fiction movie.
7. The city has rallied around this team.
This assumes everyone in the city cares about sports. Also the only time I've truly believed an entire city rallied around one team is this Nike commercial with LeBron James:
6. There's no "I" in team.
As Michael Jordan once said: "There's no 'I' in team, but there is in win."
5. You play to win the game.
It's impossible to hate on this cliche thanks to Herm Edwards:
THE FINAL FOUR
4. Records are made to be broken.
Some records have actually held up.
3. Father Time is still undefeated.
This is very cynical but also true in sports and in life.
2. It is what it is.
I've always argued that instead of athletes giving stock answers to postgame questions, they should just cut straight to the point and repeatedly utter "it is what it is" for 15 minutes after a loss. Which brings us to ...
1. Both teams played hard.
... Rasheed Wallace actually doing a version of that and coining the greatest cliche of all time: