Dave Armstrong: Full credit for the Cup win, and other hackneyed cliches

Emirates Team New Zealand roars across the water towards victory in the 35th America's Cup regatta off Bermuda.
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Emirates Team New Zealand roars across the water towards victory in the 35th America's Cup regatta off Bermuda.

OPINION: It was exactly 5am and the sound I dread – my phone alarm – went off. Because I had a deadline I had decided an early morning was the best way to meet it.

Unfortunately, the exact moment my own awful-sounding alarm went off so did my wife's. Her unseasonably early start was because she wanted to watch what turned out to be the final America's Cup race.

As I lay in bed half asleep, cursing my lack of organisation, the TV blared. Was I dreaming or did I hear a commentator talk about an 'epic race' where Team New Zealand was on 'the cusp of greatness.' 

Team News Zealand helmsman Peter Burling carries off the cup after defeating Oracle Team USA.
REUTERS

Team News Zealand helmsman Peter Burling carries off the cup after defeating Oracle Team USA.

Who uses 'cusp' any more apart from astronomers and hackneyed politicians? And greatness? I'm glad we won, but it's just a yacht race. Yet despite being on the cusp of deadline, I watched the final stage of the race and thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Thank goodness for the crafty oracle who changed the rules years ago to make the boats dangerously fast and the races mercifully short. Remember the bad old days where a race involved two big yachts, dreadnoughts in comparison to the current super-light catamarans, spending half a day miles away out in the harbour?

Once we actually won the cup, the cliches didn't stop. It was apparently a 'great day for New Zealand'. But don't think the sporting cliche generator is a uniquely New Zealand invention. Aussie Jimmy Spithill of Oracle was obligatorily gutted but he and his boys 'gave it our all' and by the end had 'nothing left in the tank'.

What better way to avoid yachting cliches than watch a game of rugby? And when a team comes back from 16 points down to snatch a draw, it can be really exciting. I'm so gutted I switched to a documentary on French hip-hop at half-time. But if I thought the Lions versus Hurricanes game would be cliche-free, I was deluded. 

'No-one lost, but no-one won either!' gasped an excited commentator on the cusp of hysteria. I think we all know what a draw is. For the first time in the history of sport, the score was a 'fair reflection of the game'. How often does that happen?When the score is NOT a fair reflection of the game?

Both teams in the 'classic', 'fiercely fought' game that had 'a bit of niggle' had 'a lot of things to work on'.  Apparently one team had to 'knuckle down and roll up the sleeves,' or did they have to roll down and knuckle up the sleeves? Our rugby commentators bestride the world of cliche like colossi.

And thanks to New Zealand Rugby for sending out the memo that games can only be 'massive' or 'awesome' in the after-match player comments. I suspect a 'titanic struggle', 'Herculean effort,' or 'Pyrrhic victory' will be considered tu meke for sure and earn a fine.

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It's a little-known fact that our women's sevens rugby players are massively awesome and on the cusp of greatness. Yet there were no cliches from the world champions last week because they received so little media coverage. Thankfully, the Central Pulse netballers came to the rescue.

Once perennial cellar-dwellers, which are what sports commentators like to call the team that's usually bottom, the Pulse made the finals but lost to the Southern Sting. Our netballers have a great sense of tradition and while they didn't say it was a 'game of two halves', which is tricky in a game with four quarters, we did get a 'full credit' to the opposition from the Pulse.

Having heard enough sporting cliches to last a lifetime, I turned to the news. Apparently the Todd Barclay affair was simply an 'employment dispute' and 'a clash of personalities'. And our city councillors wish to 'facilitate engagement' with the community and other stakeholders on a variety of issues, yet our bloody streetlights still haven't been fixed.

With my deadline finally met and feeling on the cusp of exhaustion, I went to bed happy that with the America's Cup won there would be no more sporting cliches in the morning. What a pity I forgot to turn off my 5am alarm.

 - Stuff

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