For What It’s Worth

Shut the gate on gate

In yet another evidence of lack of originality or creativity, media writers, analysts, commentators, bloggers and whoever else have labeled the story about lowering the air pressure on about a dozen footballs for the recent NFL game between the Patriots and the Colts as—if you aren’t already aware of and bored stiff by it—deflategate.

Yep, deflategate.

What imagination and originality shown by whoever first used this clever little ditty to identify the story! Who would ever have thought of that? After all, “gate” has only been affixed to the end of a word about anything from a would-be controversial story to a truly controversial one since the Watergate break-in story commencing in 1972.

And now, in what I suppose someone thought was or thinks is a clever bit of journalistic ingenuity, a story about someone, as yet unknown, letting some small amount of air out of some footballs is labeled as a “gate.” That really pumps up the story.

I have no way to investigate this scientifically, nor do I know of a database or other source that would have a tally on the number of stories tagged as a “gate” in the subsequent 42-plus years since Watergate, but it certainly would be a three or four-digit number. But how is a writer looking to turn a clever phrase supposed to realize he or she is just overworking a cliché rather than coining an exciting, new catchword?

Since I am old, senile, and rather cynical about many things, perhaps I’m missing something here. Maybe tagging “gate” onto the end of a word makes for a more exciting story. Apparently, it works. Right? How exciting does a headline about releasing some air from 11 footballs sound to you? Probably not very exciting. But, call the story deflategate and wow! You can’t open a sports page, read news online, or listen to broadcast media without deflategate being a dominant story. Adding “gate” certainly didn’t take any air of the story.

In deflating my mind a bit by releasing a few of the thoughts trying to pressure their way out, it has occurred to me that most of the players in the NFL and a significant number of the readers and viewers of deflategate stories were not even born when Watergate occurred and media personnel began labeling stories with “gate.” So, perhaps the term does seem original to them rather than timeworn. They might not even know the source of “gate.” In that case, using “gate” might be considered as creative. But, without knowing the source, how could “gate” have any meaning?

At this point, it occurs to me that I have opened a gate I should have left closed. After all, what better way to tag a story about air leaked from a football than calling it deflategate? I certainly don’t have a better word.

How deflating is that?

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