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By Richard Lee King   

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This is a brief article about the many acronyms used in sports and the confusion that they can cause.


Recently while reading Sports Illustrated, I came across a baseball article which got me to thinking….  They use so many acronyms in that sport and others that we need a dictionary just for acronyms.  Some of them have been around so long that many of us know them, but what about the next generation?  And what about those people who are new to the sport?   I know what MVP, RBI, BA, R, H, E and quite a few others that have been used for years mean.  But my grand daughters don’t.  And what about those new one’s that are constantly cropping up.  The article I was reading referred to OPS several times.  I have no clue as to what an “OPS” is.  I know what OOPS is and at first that’s what I thought this was, an OOPS!  A mistake.  But as I read a little further, they referred to it again.  One “typo” could possibly be an OOPS, but a few sentences later the same OOPS, just didn’t sound very likely.  And, from the way the article was progressing, I could tell that OPS is something very important.  The guy they were writing about “had an MVP-caliber projection for a first-year player: 311, 31, 102 with a .939 OPS.”  Who but an avid baseball fan has any clue as to what that quote was trying to convey?  I’m guessing that the 311 was his BA, that the 31 was his HR’s and that the 102 was the number of H’s he had for the season, but just what in the hell is OPS?  We really do need an Acronyms dictionary.
And then there’s basketball.  A few years back I wrote a poem,  the pretense of which was me trying to explain the game of basketball to my sweetie.  In reality, I was simply putting together as many basketball terms as possible in a rhyming format.  She got a big kick out of it, but it came across as a bit on the x-rated side.  The point being that they were everyday terms that any announcer uses over and over during the course of a season.   However, taken in a different context, they have a totally different meaning.  Trying to explain the game to a non fan while you are listening to it being announced is not the easiest task I have ever attempted.  “Spot up,” “in the paint,” “the box,” “the box out,” “taking it to the hole,” “coming over the top” and even “dribbling,” are just a few of the terms that are frequently used by those who are informed about the game, but which are very confusing to the uninformed.
In the financial world they have IRA’s, Time CD’s, 401k’s FDIC and other such lingo. They can spout off for quite a long time using those and any number of other acronyms.  When all is said and done, I think the objective is similar to one that my boss told me about over 40 years ago, shortly after I hired in as a teller in my local bank.  “If you can’t sell them, confuse them. ”By the way, he was the vice president of the bank at the time he made that statement and I was a junior loan officer in training.  At the time, I thought he said it as a joke, but did he really?
In football, they use terms like “Quarterback, Half Back, Defensive Back, Line Backer and Backups for all of the above.”  In addition to that, when you are talking about linebackers, they can be an inside line backer, outside linebacker or a middle linebacker. 
Then they start throwing in the abbreviations or ACRONYMS when they are writing about them.  Half back becomes the H back or HB. Quarterback is QB.  When it comes to the linebackers they are LB or ILB or OLB or MLB.  An offensive lineman is OL and defensive is DL, or is that Disabled List?  Are you beginning to see what I mean?
I’m not a hockey fan, but I have watched a game or two over the years.  They have terms like “In the Crease, Icing and High Sticking” just to name a few.  They have blue lines and red lines and Red Wings.  Probably if I were more familiar with the “jargon” the sport would hold more interest for me.  I’m sure tennis, soccer and any other televised sport is faced with the same unknowns.
And it’s not just sports.  By any chance, have you ever sat around and listened to a couple of X military guys talk?  BDU’s, MRE’s, MOS, NCIS, M1’s and on and on and on it goes.  It’s like they are speaking a foreign language.  Give them each a couple drinks and come back in half an hour. I’m telling you, they will still be talking military and you still won’t have a clue as to what they are discussing.  But, it will be animated and they will both be very involved in the conversation.
Then there is pool, or as it has become know in today’s world, Billiards. They have what I used to refer to as a “cripple stick.”  Of course, that’s only one of the names it was called, back in the days when billiards was still known as pool, or maybe I’m confused about that too.  Anyway, back then, it was also sometimes called a “bridge” or a “crutch.” The point being that they can all be pretty confusing to the “greenhorn.” 
It seems to me that there is a need for a series of dictionaries for the various sports.  Something small and pocket sized that would be convenient to carry in your pocket or in a purse.  Wouldn’t it be nice if Budweiser, Coke, Pepsi or someone who is a regular sponsor of sporting events were to put out something like that as a promotional giveaway?
Or, maybe some sharp entrapuneur could start a website where he had a series of different dictionaries available at the click of a key, each one for a different sport or industry.  Or, better yet, maybe one dictionary for all acronyms and another for all sporting terms.
Maybe you’d be able to pick your own criteria. Maybe there is already something like this available…. Who knows?  Maybe I should “GOOGLE” it?  There!  Now do you see what I mean?  Five years ago if I said I was going to “GOOGLE IT,” how many people do you think would have had a clue as to what I was talking about?  And, “Twitter and Tweeting” are even more recent.


© copyright 2010 Richard Lee King,

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