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Rhoads: Joe Maddon’s Bad Example Matters



By Mark Rhoads - Joe Maddon

This post is not about baseball but instead about how the language we use has an impact on our culture. Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon was voted manager of the year in 2015 and his baseball skills are well documented.

In the run up to the Cubs World Series Championship last year, Maddon rallied players and fans with the slogan "Try not to s–k."  I did not spell out the last word because when I was a teen many years ago the word was considered to be both vulgar and obscene. But today the slang word can mean something like "fail" and it is so commonly used that most younger people think it is part of the language and do not realize that it once had a vulgar meaning.

I think that is sad.

Yes of course English is a rich and dynamic living language that constantly changes and incorporates new technical words and slang. But sometimes slang can be a crutch for lazy people who don't bother to take the time to search for better words that more accurately convey a specific meaning or emotion.

Unfortunately, American slang seeks the lowest common denominator instead of the highest and that has an adverse impact on the quality of our culture. Culture is not just social customs, but it begins with language that can either inspire us or take us down to a less civil place. I think many people across the cultural spectrum would like to take a vacation from the boorish words and behavior of American life to search for a more uplifting public spirit.

Role models like Joe Maddon can help a lot by being more careful with the language they endorse.


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