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Roddy’s Rant: Ballad of Troubadours

December 15, 2003 Columns No Comments

Roddy’s Rant: The Ballad of Troubadours

by Chris Roddy

Referees get little mention unless there is a questionable call that directly impacts the outcome of a game. Fans bully and catcall our pinstriped fathers and mothers relentlessly, drawing on a filing cabinet of expletives and creative comparative metaphors that liken these people-zebras to just about everything available. Some are creative in their descriptive defecations, but others are lacking spirit and that intangible oomph that offers entertainment to surrounding spectators.

I’ve rarely heard fans turning to each other, post-mortem, to offer up a congratulatory remark about the fine verbal abuse that took place during the game.

This is not to say that I am asking for a dialogue on the value of our oratory bashing of these beleaguered brothers and sisters who withstand day after day of punishing invectives.

But, I am asking fans to take off of their paraphernaliac hats and don a thinking cap instead. Be creative in your threats and demeaning yelps.

Yes, I am a lover of words, and perhaps, sometimes too much so for my own good, using a vernacular that renders me in most circumstances verbose and foreign to many. There is a certain pretentiousness that accompanies a robust vocabularian, indeed, especially when one oft times creates his own words in lieu of using a more oafish synonym.

That said, I am still a strong believer and proponent of the value of language. The loss of words’ impact has little to do with the words themselves. These entities have life, breathed into each and every syllable. Predicates to conjunctive clauses, all is well in the world of prose. Fair enough, no one enjoys an overly loquacious person either. But, there must be a middle ground between being primitive versus garrulous. There is even a word for it, taciturn.

Yet, the taciturn troubadour is a rarity. More so, to find this person in Row 11, Seat C at a Miami-St. John’s game, is an improbability. I envy those who are as drunk on unsophisticated language as they are on overpriced arena beer.

This wouldn’t be much of an article if it just ranted (although, that is the purpose of this column, an outlet of angst and enmity for loosely related basketball topics) and offered no way to better oneself.

There are several ways to improve upon poetic goading of the refs, and for that matter, the players, coaches and fellow devotees.

1. Learn a new word a day – A ballplayer is as good as his arsenal and repertoire of weapons. The same rings true for the fan. If you can substitute the word “obtuse” for “stupid”, you gain the respect of your compatriots in the stands. It also becomes an intimidation factor. The fall-away jumpshot is devastating to opponents because they cannot defend it. Similarly, if you berate a fellow fan, slipping in expressionisms he cannot understand, you have the upper hand.

2. Perfect parlance – One of the bigger problems encountered when on the verbal offensive is offering clues to relate your impressive lexis to commonalities. Be cautious of indecipherable phrasing. Exclaiming that a referee is as “daft as Pope Urban II” will not win you any admirers, but likely will result in a light beer being dumped on your cranium. But, to say that the referee’s questionable call was as “asinine as buffalo wing-bat Jessica Simpson” will appropriately fuse highbrow and lowbrow culture. Remember, it isn’t the verbiage you have to worry about. The bottom of a simile or metaphor sandwich is just as important as the top.

3. Bring a Rebuttal Bomb – You might meet your match in the stands. I have yet to find a worthy opponent, besting all those who try to recall high school English courses on the fly. But, funnily enough, inebriation sometimes works in the enemy’s favor; alcoholic saliva wets the whistle and produces brilliant comedic axioms from time to time. The best thing to do in this situation is be patient. Wait for the barrage to be completed. And then reach down into your fanny pack of slanderous statements and pull out the heavy artillery.

4. Stoop to Stand – Sometimes there is nothing you can do, despite a rolodex of brilliant one-liners that combine the finest of intellectual terms and pop culture faux-pas-isms. In this case, it’s okay to revert to a “Your Momma . . .” joke or repeat everything the other person is saying but in a gobbley-gook manner (HIM: You’re so stupid you forgot to… / YOU: You’re so shmuba blabba doopy foggity wah). Not exactly brilliant word choice, but, sometimes knowing when to go low is part of being a virtuoso.

I hope this is helpful. So please, go forth and insult, affront and be cheeky. Slander and destroy. Befuddle and confuse with Houdini infused patois. Become a true iconoclast of the stands. And most importantly, do it with panache.


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