By playing the Super Bowl, we will have reached the end of the professional football season. But true sports fans should not despair. We're in the midst of the college basketball season — leading up to the NCAA Final Four — the NBA is getting up to speed, hockey fans are excited about the NHL, and golfers around the world are teeing it up with the start of the PGA season. You just can't have spring without the Masters come April.

It won't be long until Major League Baseball opens spring training with pitchers and catchers reporting to camp first to get back into the swing of things. (Is that a baseball term?) 

Come to think of it, there's professional tennis, volleyball, track and field, and gymnastics to look forward to in 2020. 

And please don't let me forget to mention the international sport of soccer. I wouldn't want to hear from all those Saturday morning soccer moms who fervently believe that soccer is the No.1 sport in the world. Begrudgingly ... I must admit that they make a good argument. 

I remember distinctly taking our sons to play soccer with their other pre-school and kindergarten buddies. They played at the YMCA fields, which after a while were turned into dustbowls. As the four- and five-year-olds hustled up and down the field and the game ended ... it came down to two questions they all asked: "DId we win?" and "Who's got the juice boxes?"

When you stop and think about it, we have an abundance of sports to choose from. There is archery (dangerous when the kids take it up on their own), badminton, cricket (rare but some is played in the U.S.), bowling, boxing, fencing (only for the bravest of parents), karate, rugby and horseback riding.

I thought we might use our weekly conversation to touch base (there's a sports term for sure) to talk about how folks talk about sports and how some words and terms spill over into our everyday vocabularies. 

Baseball gave us "hit it out of the park." It, along with many other sports, also gave us "drop the ball," which speaks for itself.

Boxing is responsible for a term you often hear in politics. When a candidate, public figure or boxer is especially susceptible to criticism or knockout, he/she is said to have a "glass jaw." Boxing also gave us "saved by the bell" (not the kid's TV show) when the bell rings in time to stop the referee's count of a boxer who has been knocked down. We can also thank boxing for the term "throw your hat into the ring," which is often used when a candidate announces that he/she is running for office. Long ago boxers would challenge one another by throwing their hat into the ring.

Baseball is responsible for the term "In your wheelhouse," meaning the spot where a batter is most likely to hit the ball well. This carries on to mean a person's area of expertise. By the way, the wheelhouse is a part of a boat or ship serving as shelter for the person at the wheel (driving the boat).

The PBA — the Professional Bowlers Association — is home to the term "turkey." It doesn't mean a goofy person but rather the feat of making three strikes in a row.

For those of you familiar with the game of cricket, you may know the term "bowl over." In everyday lingo, you might think it means "to astonish or overwhelm." In cricket, the term means to knock both of the balls off the wicket ... which is a small door or gate used in the game. 

If you find yourself in a jam, you may describe the situation as being "behind the eight ball." As you probably guessed, this term comes from shooting pool. In some games being behind the eight ball is very bad and often leads to losing the game. 

Students who have done really, really well on an exam often say they "aced" it. That term is likely from baseball where an "ace" is a team's best starting pitcher.

And finally, next time you're talking sports — specifically baseball — ask if anyone's ever heard of the Eephus (E-fuss) pitch. It's one of the funniest pitches in all of baseball and a good conversation starter. I wonder how many Eephus pitches Tim Hudson threw in his career and if he'll teach the Auburn University pitchers to throw it? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Until next time.

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