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Did I Really Lose That Money?

One of my many jobs is to officiate youth sports such as volleyball, softball and soccer. I find it a great financial supplement and it helps me get my sports fix.

One of the drawbacks of such a job is that games sometimes get canceled or postponed due to rain, fire, excessive heat or a school not having enough players to field a team. When that happens, and I can’t work the rescheduled date, I lose money.

Or do I? People tell me that I really don’t lose money because I never had it. And it’s true that lost means “no longer possessed,” among other definitions.

Yet although I never had it, I had an agreement that if I showed up and officiated, I would get paid. Circumstances beyond anyone’s control interfered with that agreement, so I did not work and did not get paid.

Maybe what I should say is, “I lost the opportunity to make the money.” Good thing I never spend the money until I get it.

Furthermore, to lose means “to suffer the deprivation of,” and I certainly feel like I suffer when I don’t get the money. My wallet is deprived. Yet the examples given with this definition are “to lose one’s job” and “to lose one’s life.” In those instances, a person would have had a job or a life before losing it; I never had the money, only an agreement.

To the wordsmith, it might seem clear that I have not lost any money. I can assure you that to the self-employed person scrambling and hustling and trying to make a decent living in a city where it is becoming increasingly difficult to make a living wage, it feels like I lose money every time.

Until next time! Use the right words!

March 20, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Lesson in Irony, Sports Edition

Today’s lesson: irony.

First, a definition: “incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result.”

With that in mind, I go back to my officiating. In the high school volleyball rules book, Rule 4-2-4(f) states the uniform number shall be “placed so the top of the number on the front of the uniform is no more than 5 inches down from the shoulder seam; or placed so the number is centered no more than 5 inches below the bottom edge of any neckline rubbing …”

In walks a volleyball team wearing uniforms that clearly are lower than five inches. At the coin toss, I inform the coach that his team’s uniforms are illegal. He asked what the penalty was. I told him the penalty for a team failing to start a game with at least six players wearing legal uniforms is a point to the other team to start the match.

Displeased, he then told me that his team’s motto for the season was “EPM.”

“Ask anyone on my team what EPM means,” he said, “and they’ll tell you, Every Point Matters.

Until next time! Use the right words!

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October 15, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Halves or Thirds?

It’s high school soccer season for me (it’s winter sport where I live), and the season always begins with low-key scrimmages between usually friendly teams. Today, was just such a game.

Normally, varsity high school soccer games (not matches) are played in two equal halves of 40 minutes. But because it was a scrimmage and not officially a regular-season game, the coaches wanted to do something different. The home-team coach approached me and asked if I would be OK if they would play three halves of 27 minutes each.

I responded, “You can’t play three halves; you can play three thirds.” The coach responded with a laugh, a high-five and a fist bump, for he realized the error of his words. Then he paid me.

We played the three periods, so the teams got an extra minute.

Until next time! Use the right words!

November 27, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Know Your “Racket” from Your “Racquet”

Earlier this year, I interviewed a member of the USA Racquetball Hall of Fame. This past weekend, I vacationed in Palm Springs, where I saw numerous — and unused — tennis courts. I guess tennis isn’t as big among the retired set as it once was.

Still these two things reminded me to write about the proper use of the apparatus tennis, badminton and racquetball use: In all cases, it’s a racket.

It’s never a racquet, unless you’re referring to the sport racquetball. Then, it’s a racquetball racket.

Don’t cause a racket. It’s just how it is. And be careful about being a racketeer because you’re probably engaging in some sort of criminal behavior called racketeering. My dictionary has another word for it: extortion.

In other words, stick to sports.

Until next time! Use the right words!


November 18, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Your Bad? Your Bad What?

During this past weekend’s high school volleyball tournament in which I officiated, I again was reminded of how the younger generation has its own way of talking, and I’m not so sure it’s always better.

Case in point: Using an adjective as a noun. Specifically, bad.

As any word snob will tell you, bad is an adjective meaning, among other definitions, “poor,” “unfavorable,” “spoiled,” “not sound,” “morally objectionable,” “disagreeable,” “unpleasant,” “disobedient,” “injurious,” “harmful,” “severe” and “unhealthy.”

So, when a volleyball player made a mistake and told her teammate, “My bad,” I wanted to say to her, “Your bad what?” Your bad volleyball playing? Your bad hitting? Your bad digging? Your bad serving?

Since it wouldn’t be professional to actually speak up and ask that, I could only guess it was the time she hit the ball into the net.

I supposed it would have been bad to have asked her what she meant.

Until next time! Use the right words!


October 29, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Know Your Horse’s Movements

It was on the soccer pitch that I found the idea for this post.

As I officiated a youth soccer match, a parent, obviously frustrated at either his son or a teammate’s performance, tersely remarked after his team gave up yet another goal, “Let’s see if he can do something other than trot like a prancing pony.”

That got me thinking, so I checked the dictionary. Sure enough, trot and prance are different movements. A trot is “a moderately fast gait of a quadruped (as a horse) in which the legs move in diagonal pairs.” Also, the rider bounces up and down in the saddle and hurts his butt if not positioned correctly.

To prance is “to spring from the hind legs or move so by doing.” According to a horse lover I know, a trot is one of a horse’s three main movements, the other two being walk and canter (he added that a gallop is a type of canter, and the dictionary backs him: a canter is “a three-beat gait resembling but smoother and slower than the gallop.”

prance, meanwhile is a movement that one can teach a horse to do, but it is not innate, Mr. Horse Lover told me.

By the way, I never successfully identified the boy because I never saw anyone trot or prance.

Until next time! Use the right words!


October 14, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The “Work Together as a Team” Redundancy

From the beginning of my sportswriting career in the early 1990s, when an athlete talked about “working together as a team.” I would cringe.

This never made any sense to me. I knew then that all one needed to say was, “We worked together.” It went without saying that this football player or basketball player or soccer player or baseball/softball player or volleyball player was on a team.

I looked up team in the dictionary. It has seven definitions as a noun, and the relevant one here reads, “a number of persons associated together in work or activity.”

So, if you work together as a team, what you’re really saying is, “work together as a number of persons associated together.”

See the redundancy?

Until next time! Use the right words!

September 10, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Bother Learning How to “Score-Keep”

As I’ve written before, I officiate high school sports. It’s girls volleyball season, and I must take a scorekeeping class each year.

What I am not taking is a “score-keep” class, and it was this non-word that one of my instructors used last night. Actually, she used it as a verb (and I paraphrase here): “You have to learn how to scorekeep so you can teach the kids at the officials table.”

I looked it up. Score-keep is not a word. Scorekeeping is a word that means “the act of recording the score of a sports contest,” usually by an official called the scorekeeper. The word scorekeeper goes back to about 1880.

So, learn how to keep score, not score-keep.

Until next time! Use the right words!

August 20, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is There Any Other Place to Ride on a Horse?

While on my recent vacation, the family and I enjoyed riding horses, which reminded me of times I was a child and we went horseback riding.

It’s still called that today, and I wonder why. Is there any other place on a horse you can ride? Doesn’t it go without saying that the horse’s back is where the saddle is placed (unless you’re riding bareback)?

It’s not horse stomach riding, nor is it horse head riding. Horse butt riding also seems out of the question.

Why isn’t it just horse riding? When we ride a camel or an elephant, it’s not called camelback riding or elephant back riding.

Even when a small child rides on his/her parent’s back, it’s called riding horsey. It’s not called daddy back riding or horseyback riding or even horseback riding.

I quote Laid Back: “If you want to ride, ride the white pony.”

Not ponyback.

Until next time! Use the right words!


August 15, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Never Let a Referee Do a Writer/Editor’s Job

One of my many side jobs is officiating high school sports, including volleyball. One thing I must do to be certified is pass a pre-test.

My referee unit’s instructional chairperson created the 100-question pre-test (also known as a study guide). I passed with a 95 (percent), but question 12 did not escape me.

It asked: “Which of the following is not considered a team member?” Answer D read, “Media personal.”

Of course, he meant personnel, “a body of persons employed in an organization or place of work.”

But here’s the interesting part. A usage note appeared on that said “can be confused with personal” (bold added).

I’ve never confused the two words, and until this pre-test, I had never seen anyone else.

Incidentally, D was the correct answer. Spelling apparently didn’t count.

Until next time! Use the right words!


July 25, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

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