Wednesday, January 29, 2014

GBS Grammar Time

I really do try to read more about sports online, but it's just too difficult. First of all, there is simply not enough good coverage for sports that are not football, baseball, or basketball. Even college basketball and baseball are lacking in coverage. But the main reason that it is so hard to read about sports these days is that the writing is often terrible. I can't get through articles (or blog posts) without stumbling across numerous spelling and grammar errors, having to translate what the writer is actually trying to say. I sometimes feel like I should be paid as an editor just for making it to the end.

I hate to pick on any one writer, but… I'm going to do it. I don't have a personal grudge against this person, who might be a great dude, and I don't know that I've ever read his stuff in the past. (Also, I do not claim to be perfect in any way myself. But I am also writing for Grab Bag Sports, making no money doing so, and do not have the benefit of an editor.)

Today I tried to read a story from the front page of Yahoo. Written by Kelly Dwyer for the Ball Don't Lie blog, this piece is a hot mess and is far too representative of the type of stuff I find myself trying to read through daily. The post discusses Royce White and how GM Daryl Morey refers to White as the "worst first round pick ever." White suffers from anxiety disorder, while Dwyer apparently suffers from freelance writing stress, where we have too many deadlines and not enough editing support. (I totally understand, trust me.)

But seriously, take a look at some of the text from a piece that Yahoo is pushing on its front page.

  • The former Iowa State standout says he still wants to play in the NBA, but his anxiety disorder has prevented him from taking the court with either the Houston Rockets (and, after a trade, the Philadelphia 76ers) in a regular season setting.

First there is the use of "either," which should be combined with "or" instead of "and." Even worse, his "and" is in the parentheses. In fact, if you take out the parenthetical section, you get "has prevented him from taking the court with either the Houston Rockets in a regular season setting."

  • White hasn’t been specific in discussing the barriers (travel? Inability to work in a major pro setting? Communication anxiety with teammates and coaches?), while neither Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, or 76ers GM Sam Hinkie (who was with the Rockets when they drafted White in 2012) haven’t commented much about their various stalemates.

Wow, what a sentence! This guy clearly has trouble with parentheses, as taking them out of this sentence gives us this result:

White hasn’t been specific in discussing the barriers, while neither Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, or 76ers GM Sam Hinkie haven’t commented much about their various stalemates.

The "neither…or" is incorrect, and the comma after Morey is just a guess, I assume. "I kinda feel like this might need a comma. Let's do it!" But even better is that the essential parts of the dependent clause state this:

Neither Daryl or Sam have not commented. 

So… Tell the truth. Have they commented or not?

  • You may not like the way Royce White handled his communication with both the Houston and Philadelphia front office.

Honestly, Kelly, I'm more concerned about the fact that Houston and Philly share a front office! That seems impractical!

  • There is a lot to be not on Royce White’s side here…


  • Yes, Royce White was a first round pick from an American college that hasn’t played a regular season NBA minute yet, something struggling even top overall pick Anthony Bennett has in his favor.

I can't believe that this American college has not played a regular season NBA minute yet! And really… what the hell is going on with the second part of the sentence? "Something struggling even top overall pick Anthony Benett has in his favor"? I don't even know what that means.

There are other things I could pick on, but I think I've made my point. However, the best part is Dwyer's bio, where it states he is an editor for Ball Don't Lie!

And this is why I stick to the radio for my sports updates as often as I can.

Note: If any of this text is later changed and/or corrected, I do have screen caps to prove this is what was originally published.


Allen Wedge said...

Amen! Every time I write something I read through it at least twice before posting to make sure it makes sense. I'm sure I have grammar mistakes but at least you know what I'm saying, I can't even understand this dude.

Mike said...

Yeah, I will definitely make mistakes! I don't even care if people call me out on it. In fact, 99% of the time, I'd appreciate it so I can fix it. But this guy gets paid for this and gets prime exposure that most bloggers would love to have. He should at least care enough and respect his readers enough to address his grammar.

And apparently, as I later learned, it's been this way for years. Check this blog for evidence:

The Speedgeek said...

Holy smokes. What Wedge said. I know that I'm bad with my parentheticals (I can barely go more than 1-2 sentences without one...just like now!), but I'd like to think that my sentences still make a little sense were you to take them out.

All's I know is that this just reinforces what I already knew: all three of us are ready to go pro. Now, how do we do that? Do we declare that we're no longer amateur bloggers? Is there a sanctioning body that we have to inform? Can we get drafted? What's the league minimum salary for professional bloggers, anyway?

Mike said...

My serious answer to your (likely not serious) question: I think you could consider yourself a professional blogger/writer if (a) someone else is paying you to do it for their site and/or (b) you are earning a good portion of your income from blogging. It's tough, but people do it. Unfortunately, we are not in that category. But if I were, I surely would double-check my spelling and grammar; consult a style guide every now and then, preferably the same one on a consistent basis; and stick with techniques I'm comfortable with, while mostly avoiding those I'm not. The problem is guys like this are indeed "professionals" (paid by someone else to blog for a living), and it gives all of us a bad name. So I don't know about sanctioning, but I'm down to join some kind of task force that might shine a grammar light on the bad ones!