View’s top stories, overused words of 2011


The Associated Press (AP) last week released its list of 2011’s top 10 sports stories. “Another View” has our own top 10, or what should have been the top local sports stories of this year:

The Minnesota Lynx: The only local major league team to participate in their respective league post-season. However, the Lynx went one step further — they won the WNBA championship in October, and the MSR proudly provided more coverage from preseason to All-Star Game, where a record four Lynx players were selected to finals, than any local publication.

Faith Johnson: The longtime successful head coach this past spring became the first Black female high school basketball coach to win state girls’ titles at two different Minneapolis schools (North and DeLaSalle).

Sandy Stephens: The first Black quarterback to lead a Division I school to a national championship as well as the last quarterback to lead Minnesota to a Rose Bowl victory finally got recognized in November by being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

The two sports talk stations’ and both dailies’ cadre of sports columnists remains all White.

University of Minnesota: The state’s largest university has the Big Ten’s worst Black student-athlete graduation rates.

Henry Lake and Lea B. Olsen: These two homegrown Black media talents continue to be underutilized.

The local pro teams and U-M media relations departments continue to lack diversity.

Joe Mauer: Would the mainstream media have taken the Minnesota Twins catcher to task sooner for “not playing hurt” if he had been Black?

The quest for a local White basketball superstar: Timberwolves rookie guard Ricky Rubio is the current flavor of the month, replacing Kevin Love, who they publicly lobbied last season for the All-Star team despite his club barely winning 15 games.

The low number of Black assistant coaches at the U.

View’s 2011 overused words list

I discovered several years ago Lake Superior State (Mich.) University’s annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness, first created by the school’s former public relations director Bill Rabe in 1975.

The 2011 LSSU’s list include such words as “viral,” “epic,” “wow factor,” “BFF,” as well as using names of social media sites as verbs rather than nouns. (Go to for a complete listing of the 2011 banished words.)

This columnist sadly presents View’s fourth annual Banished Overused Words (BOWs) list. It’s not hard to find them, especially since sports unfortunately is a Petri dish for overused words, a depository for tired clichés, mindless babbling disguised as expert analysis.

Such words, which sound like fingernails on a chalkboard whenever heard, must go.

Some are repeaters:

Next level — great if you’re an elevator operator asking me what floor I wish to go to, but lousy when referring to a player’s ability (“That player will be a success at the next level.”)

Length — one of Minnesota Timberwolves’ boss David Kahn’s favorite words in referring to a player’s height. I guess just saying “height” would complicate things.

“Control our own destiny” — “We can control our own destiny next week.” If this really was possible, I’d have been a multi-billionaire years ago. Either a team is going to win because they are better than their opponent or score more points than the other team or not.

This year’s short list of “BOWs” includes:

Skill set — Are athletes plumbers or carpenters? Are we shopping at a hardware store? Then this overused reference, again to a player’s ability, doesn’t apply. (“The player has all the skill set to excel.”)

“Tebowed” — Creating a verb out of the Denver Broncos’ young quarterback Tim Tebow’s name is just plain lazy. Dumb might be an even better description. Whoever came up with it needs to be banished as well.

“Two-possession game”: a perfect example of an overused cliché. Television announcers and analysts uses this nonsensical term to falsely inform viewers that the team who’s behind late in the game could come back to tie or win it. (“It’s a two-possession game with a minute remaining.”) No team is guaranteed a certain number of chances, and automatically will score with each chance.

Appropriately these words have earned their dishonored place, along with a one-way ticket into words oblivion. Their expiration dates should have kicked in the moment these words and phrases came out of someone’s mouth. Like those old westerns, hanging these words and phrases isn’t good enough.

However, that would be wishful thinking on my part.