Dear Coach,
If I hear the phrase "he gave 110 percent out there" one more time I will explode. I'm sorry, but there is only 100 percent of anything - by definition - that's all there is! No one can give more than all there is to give of himself. And it is an exceptionally rare individual who can truly muster absolutely all they have to give at any one time. It goes against the laws of physics and common sense. Unless and until someone can invent a way to suck extra matter or energy into the human body from an innocent bystander or power source, this phrase is a meaningless, moronic cliché.
Bill H.
I think sportscasters take a class in clichés. I tend to agree with your sentiment about this particular cliché. However, I would suggest there may be cases in which it may be more true than trite.
NFL players are permitted to play, and are considered to have passed league PED and banned substances tests, even when their (the players) test results evince HGH levels of up to 299 percent above normal levels. The argument from the NFLPA is that NFL players possess naturally higher levels of HGH. It may be true that some folks' HGH levels run high naturally. However, I think the outliers can attribute their elevated HGH levels to your suggestion of some exterior (re)source being introduced to players' bodies.
PEDs aren't just for pros; they're popped like Pez by high school, college and recreational athletes, and amateur body builders at your local gym. Creatine, testosterone boosters, protein supplements, etc. Sports "science" is probably a bigger business than sports nutrition. Maybe supplements are designed to allow athletes to reach 100 percent of their peak personal performance. Or, maybe they're allowing athletes to go beyond 100 percent?
What about a player like Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning, or Ray Lewis? Maybe they couldn't give more than 100 percent. But, maybe they did. A comment about the laws of physics not applying to Michael Jordan would be just as trite as the one you raised in your note. However, while it may be true that an athlete can't give more than 100 percent of himself physically, his team may be able to take, and/or may get, more than 100 percent from that player.
Whether it be some form of inspiration; the player's relentless refusal to lose; seeing that player come in early and stay late; or some other intangible that we'll call leadership; certain athletes have meant more to their teams than the 100 percent physical effort they were capable of giving.
The good news is that, unlike PED usage, being a leader and giving something beyond your physical attributes to your team doesn't have any negative long-term health implications; and, being known and remembered as a leader is much better than being accused of or astericized as a cheater.
Dear Coach,
I think that you missed one of the key points in your dissertation on your personal distaste for guns, which is clearly your choice. Why are you not accepting of those of us who shoot as a sport or as a hobby? The last time I checked it was an Olympic sport recognized internationally. There are coaches, competitions, scholarships, etc. Just like golf, shooting is a competition played out with keen eyesight, muscle-memory and in the mind. I do not understand why that doesn't seem logical and acceptable to a coach?
I can understand and respect your personal fear of guns, but please don't advocate for the removal of a fundamental right of mine without full consideration of the entire spectrum of reasons why gun ownership is cherished by a large portion of the American population, and certainly rural Carroll County.
Jay F
You raise a valid point about shooting as a sport. I intended my commentary to be about the idiocy of athletes (as caricatures of an overly-gun-happy culture/society) carrying guns without permits and killing people; and for it to be read as such. I apologize for the extent to which folks perceived my commentary as being anti-gun, or anti-constitutional rights.
I'm not anti-gun (I'm not pro-gun either) and I don't have a personal fear of guns. I'm anti-murder and have an aversion to trigger-happy wanna-be gangsters or militia-men who haven't been coached, who aren't competing in target-based competitions, and whose motives are murderous or cloaked in constitutional pretense, who instigate, escalate and end disputes (and lives) by squeezing off a few rounds.
As an athlete, I would probably enjoy the competitive nature of target shooting; have thought about giving it a shot (pun intended); and would welcome an invitation to do so.
In the spirit of Bill's concern over clichés above: "Guns don't kill people; people kill people." I'll leave it to you to decide if this cliché is trite or true.
Matt Laczkowski is a former Division I athlete and a coach who writes a column each Monday for the Times. He enjoys answering his email in print. Reach him at coach@with-character.com.