Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Tennis Corner

During Wimbledon, we hear a lot about "break-point opportunities" and "break-point chances."

In this land of opportunity, we love opportunities to add extraneous words. What the tennis commentators mean by "break-point opportunity" is "break point." What the hockey announcers mean by "power-play opportunity" is "power play." The "opportunity" or "chance" or "shot" is redundant at best.

To be more accurate, the extra words are just plain wrong. A break point is an opportunity to break serve, so a break-point opportunity would technically be an opportunity to get an opportunity to break serve. That's not that farfetched a reading: If 15-40 is a break point (a double break point, to be more precise), isn't 15-30 a break-point opportunity? If a penalty in hockey means a power play, isn't a referee's whistle during a scuffle a power-play opportunity?

Hi Bill!

Speaking of Wimbledon, ignorance of the "comma of direct address" apparently isn't confined to the States.

Just as countless American teens write "hi mandy" and "hi jason," as though Mandy and Jason were "hi," one of the British tabloids lent support to adopted Brit Greg Rusedski by printing a full-page sign for spectators reading "COME ON GREG." Comma. Please. Otherwise it's the title of a gay porn movie.