In one of my favorite episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Enterprise crew encountered a dumpy-looking race of scavengers called the Pakleds. As the episode progressed, you found out that the Pakleds were highly devious and intelligent beings even though they exhibited only mediocre speech skills. "We look for things," they often repeated as they attempted to articulate their mission. "We look for things that make us go."
As I was watching the Packers stomp the Bears' Super Bowl dreams like a Snickers bar at a Biggest Loser reunion, I'm hoping that it's possible to similarly misjudge sports professionals.
The Pakled comparison hit me when the sportscasters cut to the field reporter, who relayed a conversation she had with the Green Bay coach:
[The coach said that] "Offensively, we have to maximize our possessions. Defensively, we have to keep them out of the end-zone." Then he repeated it. "We have to keep them out of the end-zone. Period."
Wait... Let me get this straight, 'cause I want to make sure I don't miss anything. Do you meant to tell me that the point of a football team's defense is to keep the opponent from reaching the end-zone? (Evidently this isn't obvious, as the Green Bay coach allegedly repeated this salient point.)
And isn't "maximize our possessions" known to the rest of us schlubs as "scoring?"
Sportscasters don't fare much better than coaches, giving us such gems as "This team came to win!" ("No, idiot," I often think. "The team came here to engage in highly expensive group therapy aimed at modulating excessive self-esteem and it backfired terribly.")
I don't imagine the coach's half-time pep-talk is something like, "Alright, team! Get out there and start sucking!"
Can't really blame sportscasters too much, though. My theory: As sportscasting moved from radio to television, the ability to describe the action intelligently, and fill the dead spots creatively, atrophied when TV introduced a visual crutch. When I used to watch sports semi-regularly, I would actually mute the TV and turn the radio on. Enterprise software types would call this a "best-of-breed" approach. Try it sometime. It rules.
Dennis Miller's brief sportscasting career, unfortunately, swung the pendulum a bit too far in the other direction. I don't imagine that even a significant minority of sports fans would be able to unpack color commentary like "Defensive line? More like the Maginot Line!"
While sports marketing and sponsorship is familiar territory for communications firms, I'm wondering if a creative media trainer might devise a series of training tools that would help sports professionals, in particular, sound less... Pakledy.
Isn't it about time?