MLB Soccer

The best-worst sports cliches

Breaking down the cliches we love to hate.

The great Crash Davis once said, “You’re gonna have to learn your cliches. You’re gonna have to study them. You’re gonna have to know them. They’re your friends.” Truer words have never been spoken. For either players or press, words spoken off the field carry as much weight as performance on it. In short, cliches are imperative to being a successful athlete or announcer. Here are some of the most meaningless cliches, with ratings to accompany them.

“It ain’t over ‘till the fat lady sings”

Overuse: 7/10

Meaning: 8/10

Without going too much into the history of this phrase (it involves German opera, apparently), it’s been around for a long time. What does it actually mean? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for hope – I’m a Liverpool fan, it’s all I have – but sometimes games are just over. Yes, there are some miraculous comebacks like this. However, for the most part, when games are over, they’re, well… over.

“He’s got real/deceptive/(insert meaningless adjective) pace”

Overuse: 9/10

Meaning: 2/10

This one is a favorite of soccer commentators in the UK. Real pace? As opposed to what? Fake pace? Mohamed Salah flying down the wing looks very much real:


Deceptive is another fun one. How can one be deceptive in the way one runs? You’re either fast or you aren’t. There’s no “deception” involved.


“A 2-0 lead is the worst lead”

Overuse: 10/10

Meaning: 1/10

Wrong. A 2-0 lead is actually rather safe in most sports. Premier League teams win 97.8% of the time with a 2-0 lead, according to Opta. I’m no statistician, but that sounds rather good. Let’s make this clear, leads are good. If there had to be a “bad” lead, it would be 1-0. “Good” leads include: every single lead ever. Except 3-1 (shoutout Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Indians.)


“It doesn’t get any better than this”

Overuse: 8/10

Meaning: 3/10

This is a rash claim announcers like to use. I’m sure it does get a lot better than whatever “this” is. For neutrals who have nothing to do but watch paint dry, the best thing in their life may be Brighton vs Bournemouth on a Tuesday night. However, to most viewers, “this” could be an average event. Put it this way, for Dodger fans, many things are better than Game 7 of the 2017 World Series.


Cliches are crucial to survival in the harsh, unforgiving world of sports. Games are complex, interviews are laden with trickery and potential slip-ups. That’s why cliches are so crucial; if all else fails, they’re always there. In the words of “Nuke” LaLoosh, “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes it rains.”


Tom Hindle is a Multiplatform Journalism major at the University of Maryland. Raised in England, he moved to California at 13. He is a managing editor and soccer writer for What The Sports. He will also never walk alone.

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