3 Reasons Why “Overcoming Adversity” in a Football Game Just Doesn’t Exist

For years I’ve been hearing college football announcers say at the beginning, middle, and end of their broadcasts, “[Insert Team Name] will really have to overcome this adversity tonight.”

A Google search of “college football overcoming adversity” even yields my beloved Ohio State Buckeyes “overcoming adversity” in 2014 by winning the national championship with a third string quarterback. And because I’m only slightly biased, I’ll give the team a little bit of credit for adversity.

Ohio State lost it’s 1st string quarterback a week before the season, it’s backup quarterback the last game of the season, so the 3rd stringer, who had never started a game had to lead the team into the Big Ten Championship and first ever College Football Playoff. That, to me (and most people), is a reasonable example of adversity. It’s unfavorable fortune or fate; a condition marked by misfortune, calamity, or distress. Losing two quarterbacks in a season is a misfortune.

But the most common usage, by announcers, is what I mentioned above: “The Tigers are really going to have to overcome adversity tonight,” or, “This is a hostile stadium and this team is really going to have to face this adversity.”

Here’s why that is an absurd statement and why playing a football game at night, in and of itself, does not fit the definition of adversity and why announcers need to stop saying it:

  1. Football is a game. Keyword = game. There’s no adversity in a game. Just don’t play it and the “adversity” goes away.
  2. Doing something you love (that, in theory, most college football players do) is not a calamity.
  3. Using the phrase “overcoming adversity” belittles people who are in true distress.

To Kirk Herbstreit, and all of the other announcers out there: please change your vocabulary and stop embellishing. If you want to talk about adversity, talk to a Syrian refugee, a single mom working two jobs, or my grandfather who had to dig through trashcans for spare change when he was a kid.

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