In modern American society, sports are far more than just a game. This is made abundantly clear by the sheer number of sports-related metaphors that dot the English language and are "brought into play" across a wide swath of public life. When politicians debate the question of affirmative action for minorities, both sides speak of a level playing field. Some teachers want to raise the bar in testing, but many of their students would rather punt on taking exams. Good corporate managers acknowledge the need to regularly touch base with their subordinates in order to ensure employees don't drop the ball when working with a client. In any arena, a poor quality product or a poor effort is bush league, while a top earner is an all-star and a rank beginner a rookie. We admire people who can't be counted out, those who get up off the mat and try again despite adversity, but we also encourage our friends to know when it's time to hang 'em up. In a different realm, adolescent males yearn to get beyond first base in their sexual explorations and dream of scoring with beautiful women.
Sports saturate our culture as well as our language. By the end of the last century, Americans had spent millions