By Jack Mandaville I want to make a few of my...
Grammatical Retirement – “Going to War”
By Grin and Barrett
High time we retired another overused, under-thought phrase popular in today’s lexicon. This time, however, the object of my grammatical frustration is not due to military abuse of the vernacular, but to that time honored tradition of wannabe-battle-tested “heroes” (see professional athlete) using militant language to describe sporting events.
The dictionary defines “war” as both an armed conflict between nation-states, and as active hostility or contention. In and of itself, I have no serious beef with athletes referring to emotionally charged and significant athletic events as “going to war with the opponent.” Just like I have no issue with corporate executives who paint a campaign of “going to war” with the competition. Where exactly does this cross the line? Where does the acceptable use of the phrase “going to war” begin to irritably grate on my skin? When I hear phrases like these:
“We’re going into battle! My teammates are my Soldiers, and we’re in a serious battle!”
No stud, they are not. And neither are you.
“This game is going to be a war, nobody’s backing down, I’ll die for my teammates!”
Uh… sure. Sure you will.
“This field (court) is our battlefield, we’re either going to survive or die out there today!”
“My teammates were my brothers/sisters, and we went into war, into battle together.”
Listen, I have the utmost respect for athletes who put it all on the line, who approach every down like it is the game-winning play, contest every basket, run down every wide receiver, continue on after getting hacked, cross-checked, or forearmed. I got it; they are studs, no doubt. But they are not Soldiers. They do not truly put their lives on the line, let alone in defense of home and country. They do not leave weeping widows, orphans, parents who have to bury their children. Their injuries are concussions, broken ankles, jammed fingers, ruined shoulders. A Soldier’s injuries include loss of eyesight, missing limbs, chronic migraines and PTSD, horrific deformities and death.
This isn’t a pissing contest between Soldiers and athletes, it’s a reality check. The reality is that our brave men and women sacrifice more than most people can possibly imagine. No matter how many Welcome Home banners stream, no matter how many folks shake our Soldier’s hands at the airport and thank them for what they have done, there is no way to accurately describe or convey the physical, emotional and mental fatigue that accompanies a Soldier’s deployment, and subsequent return home. Going to war is a sacred act, an integral part of the warrior’s spirit, a life and death pact with brothers and sisters in arms. It is the pinnacle of worth, achievement and purpose for a Soldier; one that cannot be processed, canned, and sold as a catchphrase.
Unfortunately, it is treated that way.
Flippant rambles about going to war, going to battle, and the ever popular I-am-a-Soldier, litter the athletic field of play like discarded groupies after a playoff victory bender. Convenient one moment, forgotten the next.
Going forward, we Soldiers will stick with our intramural sports and leave the big leagues to you. When it comes to matters of war and sacrifice, however, why don’t you leave it to the professionals?