Viewpoints

Published: Friday August 5, 2011 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday August 6, 2013 MYT 9:53:50 AM

Make it snappy

The evocative language of sports.

READ any sports commentary lately? Or are you a regular reader of the Sports pages?

If you have, and are, then you will be well aware of the language of sports writers.

It’s remarkable English, I tell you. Good writing, fast-paced words, excellent descriptions and within a heartbeat, you get so caught up, the latest MyVi can zip by and you wouldn’t even have noticed. That’s how catchy they are.

Take this sentence for instance: “Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei produced an overwhelming display to demolish Denmark’s Peter-Gade Christensen in the final to win his fourth Indonesia Open men’s singles badminton title in Jakarta” (Star Sport, June 27).

The use of the word “overwhelming” is pretty powerful, particularly when you look up your good old Oxford dictionary to find that “to overwhelm” means “to defeat completely because of superior numbers, strength and skills”.

Tell me, does knowing this not make you respect Lee Chong Wei more? Or respect the writer who chose the word more?

Then, the word “demolish”. With Oxford telling me that this word means “pull or knock down”, I’m even more impressed by our lanky Chong Wei.

See what I mean?

On another page, I read the following: “In the women’s (cycling) event, Kimberley Yap (2005 Manila Sea Games triathlon goldmedallist) won the 84km race to snatch the champion’s jersey from Mariana Mohamad yesterday.”

I like the word “snatch” in this sentence because it conveys competition and the act of taking something very “quickly or rudely”!

Yes, you do have to be quick in sports, don’t you? How can you win, otherwise?

Take a look now at the following one-sentence round-up of the CONCACAF Gold Cup in Pasadena where Mexico beat the United States 4-2 in the finals played in front of 93,000 fans.

“The pulsating game was a fitting finale to a tournament boasting plenty of goals and attacking games in front of bumper attendances and Mexico, with their exciting young team, were deserving champions for a record sixth time.”

The language excites. Beginning with the word “pulsating”, one gets the feeling of the heart being involved, with the rush of blood being experienced and the whole spirit of ebb and flow being there.

The word “attacking” then takes over to give you the feeling that you would have loved to be one of the football fans present there to cheer each attacker’s move.

When the writer uses the words “bumper attendances”, you can already imagine how being in that stadium would have felt on that day, with thousands upon thousands of people and group upon group of football fans cheering till their throats became sore.

As for reading that the Mexican team was not only “exciting” but “young”, can you not imagine them in your head – with their curly tousled heads and their brown bodies rippling with muscles underneath their taut football jersies? Ah, surely you know what exciting means when you can visualise how it must have felt when a group of Mexican team members raced ahead with the ball and almost made it to the goal post with it?

As for the words, a “record sixth time”, if you were a Mexican team fan or a Mexican reading that sentence in Malaysia, you would be justifiably proud and smiling from ear to ear!

My race, my people, my team! Winning again! Six times, man, six times! Champions, man, champions!

Sports writers – they are an evocative lot, aren’t they? In case you don’t know it, evocative means “to bring strong images, memories and feelings to mind”.

Such is the power of evocative writing that I sometimes wish I was a sports writer myself.

On a personal note, the last time I participated in competitive sports was when I was cheered on, as a teacher, to dribble a ball with a hockey stick, around some plastic cone hurdles, in a tele-match event on Teachers’ Day.

Having never exercised for God knows how long, I surprised myself by coming in second, winning myself a chocolate bar which was subsequently devoured by (I must say) an undeserving daughter.

Though exhilarated by the win, I was nevertheless made acutely aware of the fact that I needed to exercise more. Immediately after that brash dash (which I made mainly to please my student fans), my face was hot, my heart beat erratically and my lungs felt as if they were tearing up inside.

For a couple of seconds, I even thought I might pass out. I didn’t but I did vow to myself that I would never put myself through that predicament ever again!

Was what I just described evocative? Pray, tell me it was!

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle

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