Sports Metaphors and Politics

I don’t intend to get into a full-fledged rant against sports-themed metaphors in general; I don’t have that kind of time or space to work with here. But I would like to address, in brief, the strange propensity of politicians to use these metaphors, often in rather inappropriate ways.

Take for example the phrase “political football,” which seems to be especially favored by members of the current administration. Now, while this one is fairly understandable (the “opposition” essentially takes their idea and runs the other way with it), I’d like some clarification. After all, there are many things you can do with a football. You can run the other way with it. You can throw it down on the ground for no particular reason. You can throw it to somebody else. You can trip and fall on it, and have a guy throw a little political bean-bag flag at you.

Most of the clarity ends there. What about “The ball’s in his court”? What is he actually supposed to do with it? It’s not always clear whether he’s supposed to shoot or pass or whatever else you do in basketball. Most of the time, people with balls in their court just stand there dribbling them stupidly anyway (that was not, I repeat NOT a double-entendre).

And what about “Home run”? This term is thrown about so freely that it’s lost all semblance of meaning. In politics, sometimes it’s not a good idea to go on bashing everything out of the ballpark. “Ballpark” is another one. Have any of these politicians actually seen a ballpark? Pretty damn large, it turns out. Actually, considering the level of accuracy we’ve learned to expect from modern government, “ballpark” might be pretty apt…


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