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Carolina choked, can we write it?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by zagoshe, Jun 26, 2006.

  1. novelist_wannabe

    novelist_wannabe Well-Known Member

    If the players are on athletic scholarships, they are being compensated for their services. To me, that's no different from being a professional. If the UNC basketball team got to the national championship game and missed those free throws or committed 23 turnovers, there's no question that someone is going to refer to it as a choke in print. Shouldn't be in a game story, but it's fair game otherwise.
  2. Terd Ferguson

    Terd Ferguson Member

    I suppose you could argue semantics with baseball players not being on full free rides like their basketball and football counterparts, but I agree with novelist and others on this one. If you're getting money to play a sport, even if it's money for your education, you are fair game for criticism. I think there are levels of criticism for each level of play (high school, college, pros), but I have no problem calling out college kids for poor performances and getting very specific with that criticism.
    That said, I hate the word "choke" in a gamer. I'm not really fond of "choke" in a column. You can imply the hell out of it, but it reeks of ESPNism to me, so find something else.
  3. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    Choke is a loaded word I'd amost never use unless the athlete or athletes in question open the door with their own words.
    Case in point: Phil Mickelson. Not this week, but at the 2004 Ryder Cup. Asked to explain US' dismal performance, Phil gave a calm, reasoned explanation very close to the dictionary definition of choke. That had to be pointed out.
    As a fan and then as a reporter, I lived through two of the most celebrated "chokes" in baseball history-'64 Phillies and '86 Red Sox. I now feel that what happened in each case was a dramatic reversion to form at the worst possible moment. The Phils were a young, thin team with a young manager that'd played over its head all season. They just didn't have the ability and mental energy to pull themselves out of their tailspin when they hit the wall.
    The '86 Sox had no closer at the start of the year, then gave the job to a rookie with a fastball not quite good enough to get away with it being his only pitch. A team of fastball hitters caught up to him at the worst possible moment, then a first baseman who couldn't bend over had to make a play...
    Wasn't Carolina's defense mentioned as a season-long problem during the CWS? When a chronic weakness does a team in, that's not choking. It's Kismet.
  4. goalmouth

    goalmouth Well-Known Member

    If it's a gamer, no way you use choke, unless it's a quote. I'd also leave 'choke' to the sports-talk no-nothings, they can have it.

    I thought the ump choked on that walk in the eighth, he squeezed the bejesus out of the strike zone.

    A walk, a bloop and a miscue -- it happens every day. That's baseball.
  5. zagoshe

    zagoshe Well-Known Member

    It was a column and my point to the boss was echoed on here -- these kids are D-I scholarship kids, they are fair game.

    And Carolina clearly choked in both game 2 and 3.
  6. If Pube and Tom Petty both agree that using "choked" is appropriate for D-I athletics, then the answer is obvious:

    It's not.
  7. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    some thoughts...

    1. Choke is a pretty serious charge in sports, so you better be damn sure of it and prepared to defend it.

    2. If you use the word, you have to question how it will stand up when you look back in several years. Michael Gee gave a good example - when you look back on something there is usually analysis.

    3. Sticking with the analysis theme, choke is something a "fan" would say. When you analyze things more, there are reasons. Also, there's an opponent who is trying to do something to beat you. Did Ralph Terry "choke" when he gave up the home run to Bill Mazorowski (?sp) in the 7th game of the 1960 World Series? Did Willie McCover "choke" when he made the last out against Ralph Terry in the 1962 World Series? If someone makes an error which allows two runs to score in the third inning of a game which turns out with a final score 2-1 a "choke"?

    you see the problem?
  8. Stupid

    Stupid Member

    Actually, those 2 points lean more to a UNC "choke."
  9. goalmouth

    goalmouth Well-Known Member

    Is the Red Sox 1986 Game 6 loss a choke? Or Game 7? Or both?
  10. zagoshe

    zagoshe Well-Known Member

    When you have a 5-0 lead and that pitching staff and lose, you choked

    When you can't field a bunt in a big spot, you choked

    When you can't put the ball in play -- and have two of the most horrible at-bats in college world series history -- with bases loaded and one out in the eighth of a 2-2 game, you choked

    When your defensive replacement can't make a routine put-out in the bottom of the eighth -- it speaks of a kid with his asshole puckered so tight he couldn't have even farted without a large doaage of laxatives -- that's a choke.

    Serving up a grand slam is not a choke, missing a field goal is not always a choke, making an error is not necesarrily a choke, getting burned for a touchdown is not a choke all the time either.

    But clearly there are times when the pressure to perform in a big spot obviously got to a player and those instances -- Mike Vanderjacht, who hadn't missed a kick all season indoors hitting the side of the RCA Dome against the Steelers comes to mind -- are chokes.
  11. Editude

    Editude Active Member

    Choke is not so much wrong or inappropriate in a column as it is simplistic.
  12. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    and here's the problem... I read those statements and think to myself - you don't know baseball.

    Two "chokes" which are repeated ignore facts... 1 was Bill Buckner. There is the image of Buckner having the ball go through his legs. That forgets other facts = if Buckner makes that play, the game is tied and the fact that Bob Stanley threw a wild pitch which allowed the game to be tied..

    the other one is Scott Norwood, who gets blamed for choking in the Super Bowl... It was a 47-yard field goal on a grass field, he hit it good, and it went wide. A 47-yard field goal isn't automatic. And if a bunch of other plays are made, the Bills aren't in that position.
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