7 Brilliantly Poetic Phrases Accidentally Invented by Sports

We don't talk about sports very much here at Cracked, because of the webstats that show how soft and doughy our readership is.

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You pencil-necked dweebs.

Which is a little unfortunate, because sports are a pretty big deal. One of the bigger deals, as far as deal bigness is measured (calipers?). And sure, on the one hand, it's kind of depressing how much human potential goes into watching, discussing, and dreaming about other people playing games. But on the other hand, come on man. Don't be a dink.

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Seriously, what is wrong with your neck?

So, in the interest of casting the sporting world in a light that Cracked's bookish audience might appreciate, I'm going to talk about words instead. Because it turns out that having millions of people all talk about a sport is a great way for creative descriptions of that sport to appear and rise to the top of our active vocabulary. When you look closely at them, there's serious poetry at work in almost every sport. So here then, for your pencil-necking pleasure, are seven of the most insanely creative bits of wordplay and poetic descriptions that appear in the world of sports.

#7. Hospital Pass

"Hospital pass" is a term that can be used in a few sports, though I believe it's most common in rugby and Aussie rules football. It describes a pass in which the receiver is going to be unavoidably and completely smoked upon receiving the ball. If you're more conversant with American football, the same concept -- without the cool term -- shows up all the time when receivers run crossing routes, make a catch, and get obliterated microseconds later by a very heavy dude running the other way.

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"And he's a little shaken up on the play."

"Hospital pass" is a surprisingly subtle term to describe something so decidedly unsubtle (catastrophic maiming). It's so good, in fact, the use of this sense of "hospital" has been repurposed by other sports; for example, in the skiing world, "hospital air" describes massive, suicidally high cliffs that skiers fling themselves off of for some reason.

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To mock/attack birds, I guess?

#6. Icing the Kicker

"Icing the kicker" is a term from American (and Canadian) football that describes the extra time outs that are called prior to an opponent attempting a high-pressure field goal. The intent of this is to force the opposing kicker to spend another minute or so standing around thinking about what he has to do.

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"I can't just stop here this time. I have to keep moving my foot and kick that ball."

I like this phrase because of the twin meanings implied by "icing." The first one is simply to physically cool the kicker down, possibly to induce cramping in his delicate, baby-soft kicking muscles. During those cold January playoff games, when it's kind of dumb for 60,000 people to all be outside like that, it's hard not to take the "icing" aspect of this phrase literally.

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"Please set the game clock to 0:00, because this is bullshit, and I am going home."

The second and primary meaning of the phrase is an extension of the first, implying that some kind of "mental icing" is going on, possibly to induce cramping in his delicate, baby-soft kicking brain and get the kicker to psyche himself out somehow.

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"Wait a second. Life is meaningless. We're all shadows screaming into an uncaring void."
"Are ... are you going to kick the ball or just stand there reciting your high school poetry? We don't have a ton of time here."

So, a great, descriptive phrase all around, even if the tactic is basically useless.

#5. Chin Music

"Chin music" is a delightful phrase that arrives to us from the exciting world of baseball. Basically, the phrase is a polite, folksy term for attempted fucking murder, specifically a fastball thrown at a batter's head.

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"And with that the Sox bring on Hernandez. He's already got six stolen bases this year when pinch running
in partial-decapitation situations."

That's exaggerating a little; almost no one dies from pitches like this because that would mean something actually happened in a baseball game. The intent of this pitch is mostly psychological: it forces the batter to duck and pee a little, which flusters him for the rest of the at-bat. It can make him hesitate a fraction on the next few pitches or just coax him into stepping back a bit from the plate, leaving more room for the pitcher.

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"Your honor, my client maintains that he was just trying to set the deceased up for a low slider."
"OK. When he decapitated the deceased, was he ahead in the count?"
"He was."
"Well that's just baseball, then. Case dismissed."

A similar technique with similar intent is used in cricket, which, if you're unfamiliar with the sport, is sort of like a baseball game without all the hurry. It's a wonder our language isn't awash with clever phrases invented by people discussing these sports, seeing as there's nothing else to do while watching them.

#4. Tomato Can

A "tomato can" is a washed-up boxer, someone used by other fighters as an easy win to help pad their record. Think of the string of weak fighters Rocky fights to maintain his championship in Rocky III, if that helps.


During one of the rare moments when that franchise was still about boxing.

Like all clever metaphors, there are a few possible meanings going on here. The simple fact that cans are kind of squat and nonathletic-looking, like an overly cylindrical man, is one image we're keying on. Or the classic trope of someone using empty cans for target practice. Or, most vividly, the fact that tomato cans are prone to leaking red juice when wailed upon.

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A prototypical tomato can.

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