Cliches – almost everyone hates them, but almost everyone uses them, whether they’re sports people, office workers or in any number of other fields of human endeavor. A cliche is basically a form of lazy shorthand, and they’re particularly prevalent amongst soccer folk. That’s understandable in some cases – managers and players are constantly being interviewed live on TV, and having a stock of phrases to use, in response to the usual questions, can be useful for anyone who wants to avoid either swearing or just saying “I don’t know”.
At the end of last season, talkSPORT, a UK site, decided to take some of these cliches and turn them into a game. They published a bingo card full of some of the most over-used phrases to be heard after every game; tick one off every time you hear it and you’ve got a game that you can play against your fellow fans.
Looking at the ones they chose, you’d be lucky to make the card last more than a couple of weekends, though some of them are clearly taken from specific managers. “Showed great mental strength”, and “I didn’t see the incident” are two you’d be very likely to hear after an Arsenal game, for example. You could easily make your own bingo game from the material you can hear on TV every weekend; perhaps games sites like online.bingo.com could increase their market share by creating new games like this for sports fans? Players’ cliches would be a good place to start.
You have to feel some sympathy for players that conduct every interview in a series of cliches. Very few of them got into the game in order to have their thoughts broadcast to millions of people, and almost all these days are given media training before they’re allowed anywhere near a reporter. This leads to the situation we have today, where all post-match interviews are basically the same – safe and often self-deprecating, but rarely headline material.
Ask a striker about a particularly brilliant goal these days and you’re unlikely to hear the words “yes, I was completely amazing today”; it’ll be all about the “team effort”, with a certain amount of surprise at the fact that the ball “ended up in the back of the net”. It’s “always nice” to score, but “as long as we get the three points that’s all that really matters.” And – at the end of the day – now “we’re just concentrating on the next game”.
The days of players like Freddie “It’s ****ing excellent!” Ljungberg may be over, but hopefully we’ll continue to see the occasional interview that throws up a few surprises.