American sports are woven deeply into the fabric of everyday life. Phrases yelled among coaches and fans at the likes of Razorback Stadium or Bud Walton Arena also echo across the boardrooms and classrooms of general culture and day-to-day conversation.
In this article, we take a look at some of these sporting expressions and terms which have now been given alternative meaning. Many of them go well beyond what they were originally invented for.
Baseball – Walks, Plates, and Home Runs
When a game is universally known as “America’s pastime,” it makes sense that much of its terminology would make its way from the baseball field into everyday, popping up in everything from online card games to business boardrooms.
One such expression, relating to a common passage of play in baseball, is that of the ‘walk’. Of course, in baseball, this is when a pitcher walks a batter to first base without the latter ever touching the ball. However, baseball is not the only game in which this free pass is occasionally given to a player. The same expression happens in poker when the card shark positioned as the big blind is given a walk by everyone else at the table, showing that such sporting expressions are regularly incorporated in everyday life.
Another baseball term that pops up in all walks of life is “hitting a home-run.” This can be everything from a stellar business deal, or anything that an individual or team of people does that knocks the opposition or competition “out of the park.”
Indeed, many a poker player have managed to pull off a bluff that could be described as “hitting a home-run” as their unsuspecting foe sat blissfully unaware. Of course, when it comes to those traditional home runs, there’s nothing quite like watching highlights of Razorback baseball legends like Danny Hamblin and Barry Lunney, Jr. launching homers into the bleachers. Lunney even knocked it out the park – so to speak – on the gridiron as the Hogs’ first standout quarterback of the SEC era in the early to mid 1990s.
Numerous baseball phrases and terminology have permeated all walks of life
Football – Hail Marys and Punts
When it comes to phrases that have been nabbed from the football field, the ones that tend to roll off the tip of the tongue and stick in everyday life are those terms that describe a dire situation or last-ditch attempt.
The Hail Mary is without doubt one of the most recognizable of these. It depicts the long-pass into the endzone a desperate quarterback must attempt in order to claw victory from the jaws of otherwise certain defeat.
Another such term is ‘punt’, although this now refers more to when someone wants to take a hit-and-hope approach to a task, or pass it off to someone else, rather than to a kicker launching a football as deep downfield as possible.
Basketball – Slam Dunks and Buzzer-Beaters
Whereas football and baseball contributed endless idioms to wider human society, basketball hasn’t been as forthcoming since it is a more recent sport. But terms like hitting “a long shot” and “pivot” are slowly incorporating more into mainstream consciousness.
Perhaps the most well-known of basketball phrases is ‘slam dunk,’ which in general parlance means an achievement that was so successfully it far exceeded expectations.This is quite ironic when you consider that Razorbacks head coach Eric Musselman would take a three pointer over a slam dunk every day of the week, but this seems to be beside the point.
Another equally used expression is ‘buzzer beater’, a term anyone who works to deadlines will be aware of.