adam j. sontag

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the Cowboys cleched the playoffs

Last night I wanted to wach a football game, it was the Cowboys vs. the Falcons and the Cowboys cleched the playoffs.

Last night I wanted to wach a football game, it was the Cowboys vs. the Falcons and the Cowboys cleched the playoffs.

There are two plausible justifications for the appearance of “wanted” here:

  1. Football-obsessed as I was, I thirsted constantly for the action of the gridiron. “Wanting to watch a football game” was a more-or-less constant state of being, and Monday Night Football just so happened to coincide conveniently with this ever-present desire.

  2. In 1992, Monday Night Football games kicked off at 9 PM Eastern, meaning that my viewing the game to its completion would have required my parents allowing me to stay up unconscionably late. I watched some of the game, but was compelled to go bed long before the final whistle. In this interpretation, I wanted to watch a football game, ergo, an entire football game, but did not. It was only in the morning on TV that I’d find out about the 41-7 final score .

In either case, one thing is certain: I was shortchanged! After “alouing” another egregious spelling error to go unnoted, Mrs. Judge saw it fit to get back into the business of fixing common sports idioms. In reality, “clinched the playoffs” is a vastly more popular turn of phrase than “clinched playoff position,” which is typically relegated to serving as an explanatory footnote in league tables.

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