Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Outlawing another Sports Cliche: "What a difference a year makes"

In John Clayton's article on the Buffalo Bills, he begins by writing about where the Bills were at a year ago. And then he transitions with "What a difference a year makes."

This is not a worn out metaphor because it is not a metaphor; it is simply a worn out figure of speech. It's functional, too: sometimes it is insightful to show how far a team has come in little amount of time. "What a difference a year makes" goes beyond cheap idiom: it's a cheap convention. It's often used as an introduction in a feature article, and it's a fine conventional introduction; I just wish that the exact same phrase didn't have to be used repeatedly, redundantly, again and again.

Here's a recent article about Tiger Woods entitled " What a difference a year makes for impending father Woods." Here's an article about the Cleveland Indians entitled "What a difference a year makes for Indians." It begins by citing the Indians' record a year ago, and then transitions with "What a difference a year makes." There's also a recent article about the Saskatchewan Roughriders entitled "What a difference a year makes" and an article about an Arkansas baseball player drafted by the As that begins with the line "What a difference a year makes."

But here's my favorite: an article about the Oklahoma State golf team that is entitled "A year makes a difference for golfers," begins with the paragraph "What a difference a day makes. A year. A round of golf," and features the phrase "What a difference a year makes" in the third paragraph.

These are all articles from this June.

We get it. A lot changes in a year. There's nobody that doesn't know that in life, and perhaps especially in sports, there are major changes that occur from year to year. Do we have to recognize such changes in sports fortune with the same phrase?

So I'm abolishing any variation of "What a difference (amount of time) makes" from my own use. And I recommend you do to.


  1. Anonymous10:31 AM

    Maybe next year the inventor of vbasketball can win a game in the finals?

  2. When Cleveland gets swept, I'll make a comparison between LeBron and another all-time great that got swept in his first NBA Finals. It should make you happy.

  3. Anonymous2:48 PM

    No way the refs let them get sewpt. They will win game 4 and possibley 5.
    Don't think LeBton can get the label of "greats" just yet. If so, the Wade already has it and several other one yeaar wonders.