NCAA tourney announcers, beware of enraging Lingo

03/22/2014 4:28 PM

03/22/2014 5:41 PM

It’s no fun being Lingo’s spokesman this time of year, because Lingo always goes nuts in March.

You remember Lingo, our minor deity of language. Lingo talks only to me, his minor Moses, and I talk to you. You may not speak to Lingo directly. Lingo says none of this is up for debate. Lingo is Old Testament.

What riles Lingo at the dawn of spring is the NCAA basketball playoffs. Lingo is pained by sins of broadcasters.

Especially agonizing to Lingo is the notion that “they came to play.” This phrase, dispensed liberally, is meant to signify that one team has arrived with a certain zeal.

Lingo cruelly mocks such analysis. “I can see that,” Lingo scoffs back at the screen, “since they’re wearing uniforms and shoes.”

“Big dance” is a metaphor that Lingo tires of easily. Lingo has never been invited to a big dance but Lingo knows it wouldn’t look like a basketball tournament. It would have more women and fewer elbows. Lingo likes precision in language.

Lingo growls when a highly paid sports commentator, endeavoring to make known the secret strategies that will elevate one opponent above another, says with a reverential tone that a key to the game will be “putting points on the board.”

Lingo does not like to be talked to as though he were a 3-year-old. Such nonsense makes Lingo yearn for time-out segments in which additional details are shared on the “Big Honda Sales Event.”

As the eliminations continue, it will come time for the phase Lingo dreads, the one where certain teams “control their own destiny.”

Lingo makes unpleasant sounds at the very mention. You cannot change your destiny, Lingo knows. It is like property taxes. Destiny is something settled by the Fates before you’re even hatched. “Look it up!” thunders Lingo, frightening the neighbors.

Finally comes the part where one school exceeds expectations and becomes the tournament’s “Cinderella team.” Lingo knows his Cinderellas. They come equipped with evil stepmothers and singing mice. It has nothing to do with sweaty teenagers or flagrant fouls.

At that point, Lingo erupts. You don’t want to be there. All the shallow metaphors and cliche comparisons drive him to a hideous rage. I don’t know how to describe it.

It’s like he pulls a Krzyzewski. It’s like a real heartbreaker.

About Mark Washburn

Mark Washburn

@washburnchobs

Mark Washburn writes television and radio commentary for The Charlotte Observer.

Email Mark at mwashburn@charlotteobserver.com or call him at 704-358-5007

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