October 3, 2003

True Vocabulary Lesson

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Pride (pr d) n. A sense of one’s own proper dignity or value; self-respect.

This was the result of my search for the above-defined word on dictionary.com.

While my obsession with dictionary.com deserves a column of its own (who knew vocabulary could be so much fun? Look up my last name; you’d never believe its primary definition: Heroin! Who would’ve guessed it!) this time around I was genuinely searching for some place that still had a good sense of the word pride.

Why, you may ask, were you looking for this word Scott Cameron Heroin? Well, friend, I couldn’t help but think that, in recent years, pride has begun to lose its essence here in the good old U.S.A. and I wanted to set things straight.

Our President tells us to be proud that we’ve immorally overthrown another nation, while our culture claims pride in such things as 50 Cent, Britney Spears, and Maxim, and all around us proud people pedal their ideas off as worthy of such standing.

But this is a sports column Mr. Heroin, is it not? Yes, friend, it is and that’s what I’m getting to. Though America at large has lost its sense of pride, sports has also lacked in this department and remains a surprisingly lucid mirror of our culture at large.

Sports’ loss of pride has not, however, come with a consequent lack of the word’s prominence in sports rhetoric. Post-game and preseason interviews are saturated with the term and its constant use seems merely to represent several recurrent malapropisms, rather than a general ubiquity of the notion in the world of sports.

The first misuse of the word is its confusion with winning at all costs. This is not pride; this is greed. Witness Barry Bonds being walked four times in a single game. The opposing team claims, “We have to take the bat out of his hands, it’s our only chance to win.” Such a comment would’ve gotten pitchers, in years past, laughed out of their own locker rooms. The game is meant to create such moments of purity and a bat in Barry Bonds’ hands is exactly that: pure. You therefore taint the game with your own selfish motivation by not allowing such moments to occur.

Bob Gibson didn’t pitch around anyone. He refused to intentionally walk guys, but instead found it more constructive to simply hit players in such situations. In his mind, it saved his arm three pitches. That’s pride.

The second misuse of this word that has become pervasive in sports is maintaining one’s dignity in the face of a losing season. Witness Terrell Owens whining like a four-year-old during last week’s annihilation of the Niners. Owens continued his diatribe throughout this week and remains the biggest sissy in all of sports. With hands like that, you’d think he could at least hold things together.

After the game, Terrell said, “We’re frustrated, we just want to win.”

I’m sorry, did you say we? Because I’m pretty sure Jeff Garcia wasn’t crying like a baby after the game like someone else we know. In fact Garcia said, “My overall play needs to improve