Quick Rant: Sports Teams Cannot “Control Their Destiny” So Let’s All Stop Saying They Can

Words and their meanings are important.

That’s why, several months back, I wrote about the consistent and even disingenuous misuse of the term “humbled” by athletes.

Today, I am taking sportscasters to task for a phrase we hear over and over and over again that, when you actually break it into its component words, is downright silly.

Just a few minutes ago, while watching the Michigan State-Purdue game, I heard Clark Kellogg comment on how Michigan State’s likely win over the Boilers would allow the Spartans to “control their destiny” in the race for the regular season Big Ten title.

I like Clark Kellogg. He’s mostly terrific at what he does. He’s fun and has his own unique style. I greatly anticipate listening to him a lot over the next six weeks.

But come on Clark, not even the greatest sports team in the world can ever “control” its destiny.

Here is the definition of destiny, according to Merriam-Webster:

a predetermined course of events often held to be an irresistible power or agency

The key word there, of course, is “predetermined.” The key phrase is “irresistible power.”

It seems to me that the definition of destiny leaves very little wiggle room: it has already been determined and it cannot be controlled.

So perhaps even just in passing comments we should stop granting sports teams, athletes, and any other mere mortal or collection of mortals the omnipotence to control something that, by definition, cannot be controlled.

What Clark Kellogg meant to say was that Michigan State “controls its future” or “controls its ultimate Big Ten ranking” or any number of other things it can actually control, all of which would have been more accurate and descriptive to say.

And while you may say this is silly to write about, I don’t think so (obviously). Again, if we aren’t particular about what words mean, well…then what exactly do they mean?

And frankly, I don’t consider it out of bounds to hold people who get paid to say words accountable for choosing the right ones.

So, to Clark Kellogg and all others who may feel compelled to tells us that some person or team “controls” its “destiny” I just offer this quick request: don’t. Say what you actually mean.

We and the English language will all be better for it.

About Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.


  1. excellent publish, very informative. I ponder why the opposite experts of this sector do not understand this. You must proceed your writing. I’m confident, you have a great readers’ base already!

  2. Magnificent goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you are just extremely excellent. I really like what you’ve acquired here, really like what you’re stating and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it wise. I cant wait to read far more from you. This is actually a terrific web site.

  3. Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it’s really informative. I am gonna watch out for brussels. I’ll be grateful if you continue this in future. Lots of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  4. And you also et your free account upon Bebo?

  5. Hi, I believe your web site might be having browser compatibility problems. Whenever I take a look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Aside from that, wonderful blog!

  6. Great tremendous issues here. I am very glad to peer your post. Thank you so much and i’m having a look ahead to touch you. Will you please drop me a e-mail?

  7. I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your blog. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme? Great work!

  8. Wonderful beat ! I wish to apprentice whilst you amend your web site, how could i subscribe for a blog web site? The account aided me a applicable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided shiny transparent idea

  9. I used to be recommended this blog by my cousin. I am not certain whether this publish is written through him as no one else understand such specific about my trouble. You are amazing! Thanks!

  10. Good weblog correct here! soon after reading, i make a decision to buy a sleeping bag ASAP

  11. The information mentioned within the write-up are a few of the best readily available

Speak Your Mind