Will college football championship set new record for cliches?

Alabama plays Georgia for the national college football championship Monday night in Indianapolis.

I like football, but I don’t care for the playoffs.

I miss the old bowl system.

All the important bowls — Cotton, Orange, Rose, and Sugar — were played on New Year’s Day.

If a contender lost one of the early games, then the night game suddenly became more interesting.

The sports writers decided the championship, which was fine. Writers back then could study the game rather than punchout spreadsheets full of statistics and hot takes for Twitter.

We’re stuck with the playoffs.

We’re also stuck with lousy announcing. Keith Jackson is dead. Verne Lundquist is retired, and Brent Musburger only does radio for the Las Vegas Raiders.

Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit are scheduled to call the championship for ESPN.

Those fellows are fine, but most sports broadcasters can’t stop rapid-fire cliché. It drives me to mute.

See how many of these words and phrases you hear during the game:

Weapons to describe quarterbacks, running backs, and receivers. Weapons break things and kill people. These people are playing a game, although they sometimes break themselves and others.

In the trenches. What is this, World War I? My apologies to the late John Madden, who used this phrase to excess, but if there’s a trench in this field, somebody should fire the groundskeeper.

Ground and pound. I think they’re talking about running the ball, but this sounds kind of gross.

Imposed their will. This sounds like a wizard put a whammy on somebody. Is Dr. Strange at the game?

Curb stomp. I doubt Chris or Kirk will let loose this one, but it bubbles up on sports radio. Curb stomping is the practice of forcing another person to put their head on a curb while someone else smashes their foot into the back of their skull. The result is serious injury and often death. It’s a favorite tactic of white supremacists. It should never be used in relation to sports. I could go the rest of my life without hearing that phrase.

Cinderella story. This won’t come up Monday, either. Georgia and Alabama are perennial contenders. Cincinnati was the Cinderella story. I’m not one to body shame, but not one player on that team would’ve fit that glass slipper, not even the punter.

That’s one the quarterback is going to want to have back after an interception. He might regret it, too, which is a lot fewer words.

No love lost between these two teams, they hate each other, revenge game, rivalry game. Someone should tell them they’re playing a game that has no significance to most of the country and get them into therapy.

Playing their best football, throws the football well, runs the football well. Why do they keep saying football? Do they think we’ll forget what kind of game is being played?

Control the narrative, flip the script. Is this a football game or an English class?

Putting on a clinic. Clinic, as in medical clinic? Oh, no. Let’s not start a vaccine debate. Just say they’re playing well.

Supporting cast, putting on a show. Wait, maybe the game is a theatrical performance.

Not their first rodeo. OK, I give up. I don’t know what the hell we’re watching.


Daniel P. Finney writes columns for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I continue writing while I pursue my master’s degree and teacher certification.
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HOT SHEET: Theresa Greenfield’s ads stink; State courts put schools in their place; the Bears are doomed this year; And why I’d rather die than pass away

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake Station.

ITEM ONE: Someone should tell Theresa Greenfield, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate from Iowa, that her commercials stink. In one spot, her critique of Sen. Joni Ernst suggests the incumbent gave Iowans “the short end of the stick.” This beyond cliche barb bites with the ferocity of a broken spork. Another Greenfield spot shows the candidate giggling with her twin sister, because a bifurcated zygote obviously qualifies one for high office. A third Greenfield ad claims Washington politicians call Iowa “fly-over country.” Greenfield notes her father flew crop dusters. The latter may be factual but patriarchal agricultural airworthiness is beyond irrelevant. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker has only ever heard Iowans grouse about being “flyover country” a pitiful complaint by an insecure populace. Do you know what other states airplanes fly over? All of them. Why are Iowans taking it so personally? Regardless, the Greenfield campaign attack ads crash and burn under the heavy weight of bad writing — a sin your typist might forgive at the ballot box, but never on the Hot Sheet.

ITEM TWO: To misquote Rod Stewart, it’s early September and Iowa students really ought to be getting back to school. Actually, they must. In separate rulings, a Polk County judge ruled Iowa law grants state control over the time schools must hold in-person instruction. A Johnson County judge ruled the governor has emergency powers under the Iowa Constitution that local school boards don’t. Bottom line: Get the kids back in the classroom at least half of the time or risk being forced to make up virtual days at the end of the school year. Des Moines school leaders plan to stay online as their legal challenge of the Gov. Kim Reynolds’ powers continues. Leaders in several districts wanted all online learning to start the year because of the explosion of COVID-19 cases that limits school officials’ abilities to properly socially distance students, faculty and staff. The typist reminds loyal readers that parents still have ultimate local control: Reynolds’ order allows for parents to request online instruction on an individual basis. Individual action is likely the best and safest way to sidestep the legal wrangling.

ITEM THREE: Fall sports — including football, cross country and volleyball — became the first casualty of this battle between school districts and the state. If you don’t have in-person instruction, you can’t play sports, state authorities ordered. That ruling likely ended sports at Des Moines’ five high schools, two in Iowa City and Ames High School. Student athletes marched to get their ballgames and track meets restored, a move that baffles the typist. The districts fight to keep schools online to avoid coronavirus spread. The students march to swap sweat and spit on the fields and courts of play. The typist throws his hands up in the air and shouts, “ARE THERE ANY ADULTS IN THE ROOM?”

ITEM FOUR: Hot Sheet roots for the Chicago Bears during the pro football season. Alas, all signs indicate another abysmal season for the Mediocre of the Midway. To distract ourselves from the misery, the typist plans to cheer for Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski at their new abode with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker choose Brady and Gronk as Bucks to buck the fashionable trend of hating Brady. The desk recognizes the history of shifty stuff surrounding the New England Patriots, but Brady remains the best quarterback of two generations. He ought to be enjoyed more and hated less. Here’s hoping he wins a trophy in a Creamsicle throwback jersey.

ITEM FIVE: On the matter of the upcoming NFL season, the typist ranks his five favorite teams by uniform and logo design:

  1. Miami Dolphins with the helmet of the cartoon dolphin.
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the Creamsicle orange and the pirate with a knife in his teeth.
  3. Arizona Cardinals with their angry bird — cardinal red jerseys preferred.
  4. Los Angeles Chargers powder blue ensemble with lightning bolt.
  5. Throwback Buffalo Bills with the red buffalo on royal blue.

Thus the true and terrible tragedy of Bears fandom revealed: One becomes a bigger fan of good graphic design than actual football.

ITEM SIX: Speaking of passing, the ol’ Paragraph Stacker wonders how “passing away” became preferable to “died” in the parlance of obituaries and language. If the Grim Reaper arrives by pass, one hopes said airborne assault is incomplete for as long as possible or even intercepted. Our Christian friends may rely on the Hail Mary of a different stripe. Hot Sheet friend Melissa Myers, a longtime obit writer for the local corporate news outlet store, kept a lengthy list of euphemisms for death — a list Hot Sheet would love to publish. We argue it’s time to euthanize this euphemism. Be advised: Should the typist shuffle off this mortal coil, remember he did not pass away; he died.

ITEM LAST: When he stacked paragraphs for a living (as opposed to those much-appreciated at-will donations) the typist loathed writing weather stories for the newspaper. Could anything be more pointless? The post-Labor Day shift from seasonal high temperatures in the middle 70s on Monday to a decidedly chiller low 50s the next day almost certainly would have inspired an editor to demand sentences be slung in the matter of it being colder one day than the previous. Here at ParagraphStacker.com, we practice more sensible craftsmanship and promote the 3-Step Finney Forecast System. Tools needed are a window and a calendar.

  1. Look out the window.
  2. Look at the calendar.
  3. Decide what to wear.

Note: Clear days trip up the uninitiated, but, again, merely need check the calendar. Clear day in July? Skip the coat. But September clearly moves toward regular jacket toting territory.

Daniel P. Finney is not John, but he parked in his space anyway. Take that, John.

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way poking fun at the passing parade.

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