Friday, May 18, 2012

It's Time to Take Revenge on the Word 'Revenge,' Especially During Pro Sports

If I had my druthers, Revenge is a word I’d yank from professional sports' vocabulary. You often hear it discussed on sport’s radio, during sports’ broadcasts, and during the analysis of sports.

Living in Chicago, this is what I hear from time to time: It's time for the Blackhawks to exact revenge against the Detroit Red Wings tonight – their hated rivals.  Moving from the frozen pond to the gridiron, the Bears, who lost to the Packers earlier this year, are out for revenge this Sunday against the Cheeseheads from ya der hey land.

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People may use this term and not know its exact meaning. Revenge can be defined as to avenge (as oneself) usually by retaliating in kind or degree. Revenge is also defined as spite, meanness  or vindictiveness. When I hear revenge used, I think of war, battle, killing and destruction. Is it appropriate to use that word when you’re simply vying to defeat your opponent in an upcoming game?


I’ve also heard avenge used regularly in professional sports which means to exact for a wrong by punishing the wrongdoer. Why is defeating someone in pro sports create this feeling you have to avenge or punish the wrongdoer? If my team wins, are we considered a wrongdoer by our opponent? Of course, you want to win every game but if you can’t, why not use it as a teachable moment, make some changes and try to do better next time. Is your only motivator to defeat your opponent revolving around hate because they defeated you earlier in the year?


I suggest eliminating revenge and avenge from the vocabulary of sports writers, sports announcers and commentators. Do we need more destructive sounding words in sports or less?  Mind you, sports is supposed to be a diversion and entertainment from everyday life and the goings on in the world and when revenge and avenge are used, it’s a big dose of reality  and reminds me of war or civil strife – something I’m trying to escape from by watching sports.


Instead of revenge, may I suggest we use "making amends?" Amends is defined as reparation or compensation for a loss, damage, or injury of any kind; recompense. It just sounds more succinct and accurate. If your team loses to your rival and you’re playing the rival again, are you not trying to get reparation or compensation for the earlier loss? In other words, you’re making amends. You don’t necessarily lose your competitive edge by using different vocabulary, you’re still trying to get compensation from an earlier loss, and except saying “making amends” is succinct and not defined in such a stark and militaristic manner.


Do you see the need to slightly alter our terminology, especially during sporting events?


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