Yesterday afternoon, during the TV broadcast of an Olympic hockey game (the Swiss men’s team beat the Norwegian men’s team 5-4 in overtime), a sportscaster told a bizarre story. Actually, the story wasn’t bizarre at all – it was entirely believable in the brutal world of hockey; what was bizarre was the way he told the story, which hovered somewhere between infantile and juvenile. This is what happened.
The TV camera zoomed to a closeup of a Norwegian player wiping blood from his forehead; his head had met the edge of another player’s hockey stick and suffered the predictable – in fact, familiar – consequence of such an encounter. As viewers and sportcasters watched the player’s blood transfer from his head to his handheld towel, a sportscaster reported another injury this same player had suffered in a previous season:
He took a stick to a very rough spot for a male, if you know what I mean. He missed a lot of games because of that injury, and doctors thought, for a while, that they might have to cut away some parts of that rough spot, if you know what I mean.
I shook my head in wonder at the juvenile idiocy of this commentary. The player’s “rough spot” has a name – either his penis or his testicles. I apologize for my lack of specificity, dear readers, but that’s the best I can do at parsing exactly what the commentator was talking about. I can’t help wondering whether talking about this injury, even in such a vague, circuitous fashion, made him blush profusely. What kind of juvenile, puritanical nation are we when adults can’t discuss body parts without resorting to nonsensical euphemisms? Why is it so difficult for so many of us to identify penises, vaginas, breasts, or testicles, as easily as we identify arms, legs, toes and the like? I understand, and expect, that broadcasters will not generally use common terminology (which is sometimes considered to be – and sometimes is, in fact – crude) when discussing medical issues and anatomy. But, can’t they please call body parts by their proper, grown up names? Doing anything less than that makes them sound like juveniles. Moreover, listening to such linguistic nonsense makes the rest of us appear to be similarly juvenile. Worst of all, accepting this nonsense in public discourse makes it easy for all of us to think, as well as speak, like juveniles. We really need to grow up and start talking – and thinking – like adults.
– the chaplain