Because I’m a sportswriter, I occasionally get an uncontrollable urge to use terrible wartime terms, such as bombed, machine-gunned, torpedoed, etc.

It’s a hazard of the business.

I try to avoid this unless I’m (sorry) under the gun to make deadline.

I saw one article in which a sportswriter talked about “sawing apart” the opposition.


But I figure with the world seemingly teetering on the brink of war, and awash in violence, minimizing the use of such words and terms is wise.

Referencing Alexander’s army or Napoleon’s ranks is far enough removed that I’m not worried about it.

There’s another area I’m going to avoid, thanks to the real threat of harm nowadays. Long ago I mentioned kidnapping as a means to slow a player’s production. It was a throwaway line, not intended to be serious, but I heard about it from an outraged reader. I never suggested a kidnapping, but because such things really can happen to athletes or their families, the reader had a point. Players are famous and wealthy and there are limitless crazies who could try something evil.

When athletes say their families are off-limits to the public, I can understand why.

Another questionable metaphorical area is disease or illness. I once read an article that said the memory of a loss was “burned into his mind like a tumor.” Not cool. But old-timey disease references are OK with me. I have no problem using consumption, ague, Grocer’s itch, king’s evil or the grippe in a column, but that’s just me.

If a game is a one-sided affair, I might use blowout or explosion, but probably not the words impaled, flayed, murdered, shot, beheaded, mutilated or stabbed.

That’s not colorful, it’s gruesome.

I’ll keep “decimated” and “obliterated” in my bag of tricks, just because I need something to describe the lopsided affairs I have to watch.

I’m also reserving the right to use the word pantsed.

Sorry, but I can’t think of a better way to describe what the Jazz did to the Warriors.