Politically Correct Sports Terms

In the world of sports, commentators, writers and other members of the media like to throw around all sorts of overused sports terms. Since many members of the media often have a close relationship with the players, they have to choose their words carefully when they criticize them in the newspaper or on a broadcast.

Over the years, several critical sports terms have become mainstream. These politically-correct terms usually hide some type of flaw in the player’s game. Here are a few examples.

Game Manager

A term given often given to a mediocre quarterback who happens to play on a team with good defense and a strong running game. Typically it’s someone who throws like a girl, can’t hit receivers downfield, but rarely gets picked off. It usually takes him 20 plays to execute a scoring drive because he can’t throw the ball effectively on passes more than five yards.

The media may say something like: “The Miami Dolphins have a great running game and a solid defense. If Chad Pennington can just manage the game, I like their chances of coming out with the victory this Sunday.”

Translation: “The Dolphins have a great rushing attack and their defense may even score some points for them. If Pennington can just hand the ball off to Ronnie Brown and not throw the ball to the other team four times, then they should probably win this game 9-7.

Other example(s): Trent Dilfer was the greatest Game Manger of all-time. He led the Ravens to the Super Bowl Title in 2000, thanks to some really impressive game management. Ray Lewis also helped a bit.


A baseball term for an ineffective pitcher, who somehow manages to regularly go deep into ball games. Roy Halladay routinely throws 200 plus innings a year and leads the league in complete games but no one ever calls him an innings-eater. Why? Because he’s awesome—and great pitchers aren’t called innings-eaters.

This term is for a pitcher who usually gives up 5-6 runs a game but can give you seven innings pitched or more. You’re likely to lose the game when this guy pitches but at least the bullpen won’t be burned out for the next week.

The media may say something like: “Livan Hernandez comes into tonight’s game sporting a record of 5-11 with a 5.45 ERA. Those numbers aren’t pretty but he’s a real innings-eater for the Nationals.

Translation: “Livan Hernandez is on the mound today. He really blows and no one gets excited about this guy pitching. He’s going to give up a lot of runs, but he will manage to do it in the most effective manner possible.”

P.S. I’m aware Livan Hernandez is actually pitching pretty well this year…so far. No way that continues though.

Other example(s): Kevin Millwood, Paul Byrd

Crafty Lefty

Similar to an innings-eater but he must be left-handed. Right-handers cannot be crafty. Righties are junk-ballers. A crafty lefty can barely break 85 mph on his best day. He relies on curve balls, change-ups and a little bit of luck to get batters out.

The media may say something like: “Jaime Moyer is incredible. At 47 years old he’s still able to get people out. His fastball barely breaks 80 mph but he changes speeds well, so he’s able to stay effective.”

Translation: My God Jaime Moyer throws slow! I can’t believe this guy is still pitching. How are we not hitting this guy? He’s 47 fucking years old! My kid throws harder than him! If he went to my kid’s high school tryout he would get cut on the first day!

Other example(s): Barry Zito, Kenny Rogers, Nate Robertson

Veteran Presence

This term can be applied to any team sport and it refers to a player who used to be really good but now is old and a shell of his former self—Yet he manages to hang around for years past his prime because of his name.

The media may say something like: “Ken Griffey Jr. has a lost a step in the outfield and his power numbers aren’t what they used to be but he can still provide a veteran-presence to this Seattle Mariners ballclub.”

Translation: Remember when Ken Griffey Jr. was the best player in baseball like 10 years ago? He would routinely hit 40+ homers a year and make diving plays in the outfield. Well now he’s old, can only play DH, hits .200 and falls asleep in the clubhouse— but the younger guys seems to like him and he puts fannies in the seats, so he still can provide some sort of benefit to this team; even if its not actually on the baseball field.

Other example(s): Jason Varitek, Trevor Hoffman, Shaquille O’Neal

Gritty/ Scrappy/ Gamer

All three of these terms are interchangeable and mean basically the same thing. It’s a baseball player who is white and perhaps has some facial hair. He’s not very good at baseball but he’s fast, runs hard to first base, dives for balls well out of his range and slides head-first any opportunity he gets.

The media may say something like: “Eric Byrnes’ average is down this season but he’s gamer who brings intangibles that can’t be measured by statistics,” (ball put in play) “There’s a drive down the left field line in the corner…Byrnes dives for the ball and it’s out of his reach, that’s going to be extra bases. Great effort by the scrappy Byrnes there. He looks banged up on that play but it looks like he’ll stay in the game. You’re not gonna get Byrnsie out of this game. He’s a real gamer.”

Translation: Eric Byrnes fucking sucks. In fact, he’s so bad, he’s been reduced to playing slow-pitch softball. But look at the crazy hair! And he dives for everything and slides even when there isn’t a play! Look how dirty his uniform is! Diving for balls is exciting!

Other example(s): David Eckstein, Ryan Theriot, Scott Podsednik


This is a term for a hockey player whose sole purpose is to come into the game and hit the shit out of people. He lacks the ability to shoot, pass or skate very well but he will inflict pain on anyone who comes his way.

The media may something like: “Tai Domi is in the game after the line change. Domi, has long been known for being an enforcer. He has yet to score a goal this season but he does lead the league in penalty minutes.”

Translation: Tai Domi stinks but, man, can he hit hard. He also gets into fights and is constantly in the penalty box.

Other example(s): I have no clue. I don’t really watch hockey. I only know guys who were in EA Sports NHL 95 for my Sega Genesis (hence the Tai Domi reference). Is Jeff Buekeboom still in the league?

Gun Slinger

A quarterback who’s not afraid to make the difficult throw. BRETT FAVRE. A quarterback who stares into the face of triple coverage and says “FUCK IT”—I’m gonna throw it anyway. BRETT FAVRE. A quarterback who is old, grizzly and can’t decide if he should retire or come back for one more season. BRETT FAVRE. A quarterback who single-handedly cost two different teams a shot at the Super Bowl by throwing a last-minute interception. BRETT FAVRE. A riverboat gambler. BRETT FAVRE. A guy who is just having fun out there. BRETT FAVRE.

The media may say something like: And the throw by Favre is INTERCEPTED! That’s gonna go the other way for six. You gotta love Favre’s intensity and boyish enthusiasm though. No other quarterback in the league would even attempt to make that throw! He’s a gun slinger!

Translation: Can you believe Brett Favre just tossed up the ball into double coverage when he’s backed up in his own end zone? How many picks is that now? 3? 4? I lost track.

Other examples: There is only one Gun Slinger.

You’ll notice most of my references are in football and baseball because those are the two sports I know best. If you have any others that weren’t listed, feel free to write about it in the comment section.

4 comments for “Politically Correct Sports Terms

  1. Mike K
    June 2, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    One that always kills me, which falls in the gritty/scrappy/gamer category, is when non-football players are praised for their “football mentality”. The most recent example is Jeff Francoeur, who was a bigtime high school football player. The guy can’t even crack a .300 OBP, but he’ll make the 0-4 night look good with a hustle play, and Mets announcer Ron Darling will credit his “football mentality” for his ability to “keep grinding away out there” despite his struggles at the plate.

    Also, Eckstein was just thrown out at the plate against the Mets in the Bottom of the 9th. I’d love to hear the San Diego radio feed to see if he was complimented on his grit.

  2. Chris
    June 3, 2010 at 1:24 am

    Darin Erstad used to receive the same praise in the latter half of his career. He played football for Nebraska and it was constantly noted that he had a football mentality which meant he couldn’t hit a baseball and seemed to try really hard.

    His football position was punter.

    You definitely have to be white to get the football mentality praise because it’s a close cousin of gritty.

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