Clichés. I don’t know if there is anyone who actually enjoys them.

I have had the pleasure of working in both sports and business (sometimes at the same time) and, unfortunately for me, clichés run rampant in both. The phenomenon led me to an important question: which set of clichés is more irritating?

I’ve put the two in a head-to-head battle to find out.

“What’s the ROI” vs. “Their guys get paid, too”

Acronyms drive me insane … probably because I feel stupid when I hear them and have to look them up. This happened to me a lot when business lingo was first introduced at my old place of employment.


“I asked for the ROI!”

“Well,” one of my savvy bosses would say, “what’s the ROI on that?”

I would then offer a blank stare and mutter something about having to check. I would go ahead and check alright … I would check what the heck ROI stood for.

Then there’s the sports cliché, “their guys get paid, too.” This cliché is used by a team that is either expecting to be beaten by a far superior opponent or a team that has just been beaten by a far superior opponent. Either way, it is uttered by players as a way to get the media to stop asking why the team lost.

“Their guys get paid, too” equates to, “Dude, did you see those guys? And you’re asking me why we lost?”

WINNER: ROI without a doubt. Hats off to any team that has to remind reporters that the other guys get paid, too.

“Let’s take this offline” vs. “I have to watch the tape”

A statement like, “let’s take this offline” is a fancy way to say, “let’s talk about this later” or “let’s talk about this away from everyone else.” Any fancy, coded statement like that drives me crazy. Period.


The press conference in sports: where anything that isn’t a cliché is news for days.

“I have to watch the tape” is usually said by a football coach immediately after a game in reference to a player’s performance. The statement serves two purposes:

  1. It gives the coach a chance to regroup with his PR guy before commenting on a player that totally sucked.
  2. It gives the coach a chance to pinpoint with complete certainty which player sucked so he can regroup with his PR guy to deflect from the guy everyone thinks sucked, and avoid saying the guy who actually sucked, sucked.

WINNER: Taking something offline is not only an irritating code phrase, it violates all that I stand for. Always be online. Always.

“Be a team player” vs. “They’re good despite their record”

That whole “be a team player” thing drives me nuts. No one wants to be a team player if you have to actually tell them to be a team player. If they wanted to be a team player in the first place, you wouldn’t have to tell them to be a team player.

What’s more, I feel like beginning an email with, “Hi team!” is kind of like ending an email with, “Regards.” I think ending an email with, “Regards” is like giving the middle finger. If you start an email with, “Hi team!” you might as well begin with, “Yes, you are all my team and I own you and you better be cheerful about it!”

Saying, “they are a good team despite their record,” or telling the media “not to sleep on so-and-so” is a way to avoid bulletin board material. All a crappy team needs is an opponent telling the media they suck and you end up with David beating Goliath.

WINNER: “Hi team!” drives me nuts. Are we sensing a pattern? Perhaps this is why I transitioned to freelance.

“I have a 2, 4, and a 4:30” vs. “He has an ankle”


Tomorrow I have a 3.

One thing I’ve learned about high-powered business people … they like to meet. They meet about meetings. Seriously, it’s a thing.

All of those meetings results in abbreviated run-downs of schedules. Instead of saying, “I am meeting with Sam to talk about our budget at 2,” Mr. CEO would say, “I have a 2.”

The sports equivalent is injuries. Coaches can’t be bothered to actually say the word “injury.” Instead, they simply rattle off body parts, which results in some of the more ridiculous statements you will ever hear.

“Sean has a knee … Tim has an ankle … Joe has a thumb …”

No really, that’s what they say.

WINNER: I’m giving this one to the sporting world.

“Low-hanging fruit” vs. “winning with the guys we have”

Something about the phrase “low-hanging fruit” sends my mind right to the gutter.

“We have to win with the guys we have” is another way of saying, “look … this is as good as we’re going to get, can you stop asking me how we’re going to get better?”

WINNER: Low-hanging fruit … what else is the coach supposed to say?

“build a better mousetrap” vs. “one day at a time”


Congratulations to anyone who successfully set up and played this game.

Okay, when anyone says they have to, “Build a better mousetrap,” I immediately think of that game we had when we were kids that was more difficult to set up than it was to play. I don’t think I ever actually played the game because it was so difficult to set up.

Putting the phrase in context, though, the whole “mousetrap” thing is just another buzz word that drives me crazy. Just say, “We have to find a better way to draw them in,” or something like that. Right?

When it comes to, “We’re taking it one day at a time,” I’m going to do my friends in the media a favor and decode this one.

When a player or coach says, “We’re taking it one day at a time,” what he or she really means is, “Do you really think I have the mental space to look further than the next 10 minutes? I woke up at the crack of dawn so I could work out, sit in a cold tub, and then sit in a boring classroom for two hours. I’m exhausted, and this team we’re playing is really good despite their record.”

See what I did there?

WINNER: Mousetrap. Obviously.

Well, there you have it. My analysis. To be honest, it’s probably not a fair assessment. You’re talking to someone who has always worked in sports and avoided corporate America like the plague.

By all means, you tell me if I’m off base on any of these and feel free to throw in your own clichés that make your skin crawl!