Paul Valencia: Terms we all use don’t make a lot of sense

Commentary: Paul Valencia



Remember those harmless crank calls back when we were kids?

Homeowner: Hello?

Crank caller: Hi, this is Joe from Appliance Repair. Is your refrigerator running?

Homeowner: Yes, it is.

Crank Caller: Well, don’t you think you should go catch it?

Ha ha ha ha.

That’s what I think of whenever we use the term “running clock” for football. We even had a reader leave us a comment on one of our stories, suggesting he really has to see the running clock phenomenon. It would make for a great cartoon, with Wile E. Coyote as a guest star.

I can just imagine the clock jumping off the scoreboard and running across Gary Boggs Field at Kiggins Bowl. Then there’s Camas coach Jon Eagle and his staff going after it at full speed, trying to catch it in order to put it back in place for the next game.

Sure enough, in that next game, it’s a running clock again. There it goes! Look at it run! Followed by Skyview coach Steve Kizer chasing it down.

When the coaches finally capture that running clock, guess we can call that good clock management, huh?

All this got me thinking about other phrases from sports that can be misinterpreted by the warped mind.

When I was young, I really thought cross country runners ran across the country. So years later when Forrest Gump came out, and he really did run across the country, I thought, finally, someone took cross country literally.

We all know what a tee time is for golf. But admit it, before you knew any better, you just assumed golfers from each school sat down before their matches for some tea. I’m guessing that’s how they did it in England.

I love it when I hear fans scream “That’s illegal!” when they see a foul or an infraction in a game. Actually, it might be against the rules of the game but I doubt it is illegal to jump offside.

Then again, football doesn’t really help us out with that argument because they actually refer to some of their infractions as illegal. Illegal use of hands (not going there) and illegal procedure or illegal formation. Next time I see an illegal formation, I also want to see Vancouver’s finest walking toward the line of scrimmage, with their handcuffs out, asking, who did it, which wide receiver was not lined up correctly. Then they haul that kid downtown.

See, now that’s illegal!

Strange how something like lining up wrong can be illegal in one sport, yet in volleyball, players are encouraged to kill. Every kill is celebrated. The leader in kills gets her name in the paper. Not in the crime section, but the sports section. Often, she is a star of the day. Yep, she killed it tonight.

In soccer, officials give out yellow and red cards. Those things should be sponsored by Hallmark.

“Dear player, thank you for your love for soccer, but on that last play, you might have been a little too aggressive. Please don’t do that again.” Then the official can have the other team sign the card and give it to the offending player.

If it’s a red card, the wording would have to be changed: “Dear player, our deepest sympathies for your mom and dad for coming out to watch you play, because you can’t play anymore.”

In swimming, when I think of the 200-meter butterfly, I think that must have been one really, really big cocoon. (If nothing else, I think Gary Larson of The Far Side fame would appreciate that line.)

In tennis, when a player is up 40-love, is that really just a form of trash-talking? “Hey, I love playing this guy because he can’t score on me!”

Perhaps we can come up with more fun terms for winters sports. (Double dribble? Is there a baby on the court?) And spring, too. (A stolen base? Yet another crime that is encouraged. That dude stole the base in front of everybody and nobody is doing a thing!)

Or maybe I’m just a little too warped. Have to go now. I just saw a clock running down the street from McKenzie Stadium.

Paul Valencia covers high school sports for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4557 or e-mail at Follow him at Or like him on facebook.