I’ve talked a bit about the deterioration of our language, and why that matters, over on my other blog. I’ve also discussed ad nauseum how bad “journalists” covering mixed martial arts are, and why that matters. As you will see, this problem isn’t limited to MMAJ; other sports are suffering due to the Internet age. Not all of these problems are based in ignorance or stupidity, though. Often, writers are just trying to be overly-dramatic. Writers and entertainers like to use inflammatory language in order to place greater importance on their opinions. The overuse of “underrated” by sports writers is a great example of that, and here are the consequences.

Grant Paulsen, Washington Redskins beat reporter for 106.7 FM in DC, tweeted the following (with respect to the Redskins’ win over the St. Louis Rams):

Underrated performances: Jabar Gaffney 4 cat, 62yds (was key on a few 3rd down conversions), Ryan Kerrigan 6tckls & a sack (strong vs run).

As you will see, his point was that no one was discussing the performances of Gaffney and Kerrigan. Considering that everyone is expressly acknowledging their efforts makes the sentiment incorrect on its face, but that’s not my point. I responded:

Underrated!? Cite single person that said these guys didn’t contribute. Skins blog had them as candidates for player of game.

and then

It seems not a single sports writer knows what the word, “underrated,” means. It doesn’t mean “not discussed” or “2nd place.”

Grant responded:

Good think I’m not a writer then, huh? Gaffney and Kerrigan’s performances are getting lost behind Torain & Hightower is the point.

… and I ended the conversation by responding further:

Not by anyone I’ve seen comment on the game, which means my point stands: You also misuse “underrated.” #theatrics #drama

My point, which was clearly lost on Grant, is that even if people aren’t talking about about Kerrigan or Gaffney, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re being underrated. “Underrate” means “underestimate the extent, value, or importance of (someone or something).” It doesn’t mean “not discussed” or “not as good.” It means that you aren’t giving the subject enough credit when you do discuss it. If no one is discussing the subject, which was precisely Grant’s assumption, then you have no basis for accusing them of undervaluing the subject.

As I mentioned earlier, Grant’s profile page lists him as:

Redskins Beat Reporter for 106.7 THE FAN in DC. Host baseball shows on MLB Network Radio. Attend GMU in Fairfax, Va.

Thus, his sarcastic comment, “Good think[sic] I’m not a writer, huh?” makes him look even more foolish. He’s smugly relying on his expertise without logical support, as if I’m supposed to assume he’s correct simply because he’s paid to write, and this demonstrates tremendous insecurity in the face of criticism. His explanation of how he defines “underrated” further shows that, while many others are just trying to be overly dramatic, Grant actually doesn’t understand and instead thinks he correctly used the word, “overrated.” That’s pretty bad considering he’s a professional user-of-words, and I spelled out the error for him.

There’s nothing wrong with simply saying, “My bad; I made a mistake” (though he apparently doesn’t understand that he did). There’s also nothing wrong with ignoring me. He should have, because in responding he demonstrated two things much worse than being overdramatic: He showed 1) that he really doesn’t know what the common word “underrated” means, indicating a 3-year-old’s reading comprehension, and 2) he’s either as insecure as a 3-year-old or an arrogant dope. In either case, his employers should have a talk with him.

More Generally

I can’t believe these guys have jobs. Is the applicant pool so thin that there isn’t anyone available with writing ability? Typos are one thing — you might find some in here — but a systematic misunderstanding of the English language is a real problem for someone employed to speak, read, or write in English. I could be disbarred or sued by my clients if I made these types of errors. Some of these journalists should at least be watched more carefully by their superiors. I’m not suggesting that employers clear every tweet that’s sent, but if you can’t trust your employees to make correct statements, either micromanage their tweets, forbid their tweets, or replace the employee. Unfortunately, his “About Me” page indicates he has his job because of his connections rather than on the merits of his work as an adult, so I won’t hold my breath.

Follow me on Twitter @MMADork
Follow Grant Paulsen on Twitter @granthpaulsen
Follow 106.7 the Fan on Twitter @1067thefandc
Follow CBS Sports on Twitter @CBSSports

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