Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning left yesterday’s win over the San Diego Chargers after taking a hard hit in the fourth quarter.  When asked about the injury after the game Manning said it was “A lower body” injury.  That’s the new way injuries are identified in sports.

Hartford Wolf Pack coach Ken Gernander frequently demonstrates that he gets the joke when he’s asked about injured players, offering a sly smile and a slight chuckle as he defines the injury as “lower body” or “upper body”.  It’s just the newest of many ways sports figures have developed over the years of showing the rest of us how much smarter they are than us.

I remember one time when, in the heat of intense play, in my early days calling high school basketball, I took a lot of grief for saying a player took a shot to the head area.  By today’s definition that would be considered medically specific.  In today’s world of sports definitions how would a hand injury be defined?  In the extended body area?

In some cases the sports world has completely redefined certain words, to the extent where good and bad are defined simply by who’s involved in the act.  For instance:  Alex Rodriquez shows up on a list of a hundred baseball players who tested positive for steroids.  Bad.  David Ortiz shows up on the same list for the same infraction.  Good.  Worse, though, is one word that’s assigned opposite definitions simply based on the people it’s used in connection with.  Appealing a Major League Baseball ruling.  Bad.  Meeting with the family of a missing autistic boy and organizing efforts to mount a search, also bad.  That is, if you’re Alex Rodriquez and your critics refuse to believe you’d ever do anything good.  A-Rod is hoping that by joining the search he’ll be able to rally more support from the missing boy’s Manhattan neighborhood.  Bad, bad, bad, by today’s definition.

But the loosest Gerry-mandering of definitions in the sports world today involves the Miami Dolphins bullying case.  It’s impossible to offer a legitimate opinion of the situation because it’s become so fluid and every day there’s a new take on one of the most distasteful words in English lanuage history, depending on who’s telling what side of the story, who you believe and what the definition of “is” is.

The sports world has newly defined the “N” word.  It’s now strictly a context thing, when it’s used, how it’s used, where it’s used, who’s using it.  Now, we learn from listening to Dolphins lineman Richie Incognito and the teammates who defend his actions against fellow lineman Jonathan Martin, that there are actually okay times and okay places to use the word, and not okay times and not okay places.  I didn’t know there was ever an okay time to use the word, or an okay place, but I know it’s a specific sports world definition because no one seemed to think it was okay in the time and place Paula Deen thought it was an okay word to use.

It’s all so confusing.  All this time I thought Richie Incognito was a bore and a bully.  Turns out he could be your kid’s high school English teacher, and his role model to boot.  It just depends on who’s definition you use.

With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.



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