The Battalion. (College Station, Tex.) 1893-current, October 22, 1987, Image 12
The art of cringing
You never really leam to cringe
until you work on the sports desk.
Oh sure, the amateurs may do
pretty well when, say, Joe Theismann
has an extra knee added to his leg
courtesy of Lawrence Taylor. But to
fully exploit the garnet of emotions
and expressions involved with
cringing, one must be fully versed on
the wide variety of possibilities on the
menu. And that requires time with the
writers, coaches and jocks.
Let me elaborate.
There’s Number 1: Animated
Grimace. The eyes close as facial
muscles pull the comers of the eyes
upward. Wrinkles form on the brow.
The head tilts slightly to the right and
recoils slightly. The tendons of the
neck and jaw tighten and become
slightly visible. The shoulders hunch
slightly. A quick breath is held for a
couple of seconds, then released as
the complexion returns to normal with
a couple of gentle shakes of the head.
This is the look one finds on the
faces of those who root against Texas
A&M when, for instance, Chet Brooks
goes horizontal to flatten an airborne
enemy receiver. Vicarious pain is the
general concept. The common
thought is, “I’m sure glad he plays for
us,” as well as, “I’m sure glad that
A sub-phenomenon of this is
Number 1A: Animated Grimace with
Cod-Liver Oil. Exaggerate all
symptoms of Number 1 for a basic
Number 2: The Excedrin
Headache. The eyes close flat and the
forehead wrinkles slightly in a look of
complete emotionlessness as the body
reclines and slouches. The emotion is
expressed with the left hand, three
fingers of which rest on the forehead
while the thumb lodges itself beneath
the left cheekbone.
Sports writers across the press box
get this one when Jackie Sherrill
refuses to change quarterbacks. “I
can’t believe it’s Pavlas again. ” Or
when the 27th attempt at a headline
has also failed to fit. “I‘m trying to be
patient,” is a frequent thought that
enters the brain at this point.
Then there’s Number 3: the Lemon
Look. The neck tendons tighten and
the eyes squint, as the mouth comers
tilt slightly downward. Imagine
drinking a bottle of A-l and then
looking in the mirror—that’s the
This one is common in press boxes
when scores are announced of games
where a team did not cover the
spread. Sports guys, thinking they
know about the game, feel more
comfortable betting on it, I guess.
“Indiana did WHAT to Ohio State?
Can’t belEEEVE that (expletive
deleted) conned me into that one. ”
On the other extreme there’s
Number 4: The Silent Scream. The
eyes may close briefly, but no other
outward signs appear. This is
indicative of complete distaste,
disbelief or boredom, and it only
appears when one does not want to
show one’s feelings.
For instance, Jackie Sherrill says,
for the 86th time this year, “You have
to remember, we’re a young football
team. We’re going to make mistakes. "
“Oh no, not again, ” thinks the
humble writer, and scribbles away.
Or it could come when trying to
take notes from a “poor quote. ” This
is a person who, being inexperienced
in the art of giving interviews, talks
very quietly and quickly and says little,
if anything, of any importance.
For example, Lance Pavlas:
mexttimetowin. ” Honestly, that’s
what it’s like.
Of course, once in the newsroom,
all holds are barred. An exasperated
editor might, for instance, cut loose
with a Number 5: Primal Scream. The
arms are pinched to the ribs, the eyes
close tightly, the head rears back, and
out of the throat leaps a gut-
Just like Charlie Brown. This comes
from editors who have a story that is
not long enough to fit the hole for it to
go in or who just deleted the only
copy of a person’s last name.
The more controlled members of
the editing corps might choose instead
Number 6: Focused Temporary
Hatred. The chin is the key here,
becoming prominent as the teeth
clench tightly. The eyes flatten, fists
clench tightly, and a quiet groan
eminates from the throat with a slow
This is common among patient
editors who hear a writer say, “I can’t
fill a hole that big, ” or “You mean, I
was supposed to get quotes?"'
Common thoughts that accompany
this one include, “Kill him later—
you’re on deadline.”
Hal Hammons is a senior
journalism major and an
assistant sports editor for the
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