Hey, sports-fans, Ron “You Stay Classy, San Diego” Burgundy just called to tell us he’d really appreciate it if we all just chilled on the use of the word class–especially when referencing sporting events and athletic competition.
We’re talking class as defined by Uncle Merriam-Webster in point 14 (an informal usage: elegance, grace, or dignity, as in dress and behavior). Ron B particularly objects to the extensive use-by-extension of classy, classless, and lacking class. He also cautions that sarcastic use of this term and/or prefacing the term with the adverb ‘totally’ could result in heavy fines or even criminal charges.
At Beemsville, we’re in complete agreement. What does elegance, grace, or dignity, as in dress and behavior really have to do with popular sporting events–with basketball or football or soccer, with the fans, coaches, and players… Not much, nor should it. In fact, we would argue that the term classy should heretofore be reserved for Ron B and for certain black-and-white movies, when referring to ‘dames’.
Do you want [insert your favorite team here] to exhibit class or do you want them to play hard and win? It’s a simple question, brought to the fore by the big sports rivalries we were able to view last week.
Illinois vs. Indiana in basketball: a big deal in our area. Illini Guard Chester Frazier received quite a lot of pub for a shoulder-chest bump laid on Hoosier Guard What’s-His-Name during the pre-game intros. One sports blogger described it as “completely classless and totally awesome” (oh, yes–Leitch will be fined…). Then there was the whole issue of class (or lack thereof) in terms of fan behavior–which included incessant booing, cursing, and yes, thrown ice or beads at What’s-His-Name’s parents. As the various regional and national journos piled-on Illini nation for their collective behavior, negative and sarcastic use of the word class was rampant, hitting a fever pitch*.
Here at Beemsville, where we’ve followed this latest chapter in the Illinois-Indiana rivalry quite closely, our official (albeit biased) opinion is thus: Any behavior short of a felony directed at IU Coach Kelvin Sampson, What’s-His-Name, and family, is completely justified and acceptable. We only ask that you consider terms other than class to describe this whole affair. How about terms like poor sportsmanship, bitterness, asshole, karma, and sanctions–yeah, those could work…
Then you have U.S.-Mexico in soccer, where classless behavior has seemed like the defining trait of our southern neighbors in recent years. But surprisingly, that didn’t happen last Wednesday. We witnessed a dearth of pre-game smack-talk and in-game cheap-shots, and afterward the two side even exchanged shirts for the first time in recent memory. The fact that the result was a well-played 2-2 tie probably didn’t hurt.
Soccer as a sport notriously overuses the term, class (especially British announcers and Americans trying to sound like Brits) when describing everything from first touch to passes to goals. Someone please send the memo to London and MLS HQ–find some new cliches. Even “booyah” and “taking it to the house” have been phased out of other sports…
As an alternative, we submit all a term gleaned from the aforementioned U.S.-Mex rivalry. That term is ardido. Yes, we all know red-blooded ‘Mericans don’t take kindly to foreign terminology, but check this out: Ardido, near as we can tell, means pride, defiance, anger, and acting like a prick. El Tri has used this term to justify their antics for years.
Try it, you might like it. The Illini-Hoosier rivalry–from the illegal phone calls to Chester’s chest-bump to the unapologetic f-bombs–just smacks of ardido. No word yet from Ron Burgundy on this, but we’ll be sure to pass along his thoughts. Until then…
*with apologies to Nick Hornby