Sports in the workplace: Using familiar analogies

By Grant Gannon | Associate Editor, Golfdom

In our youth, it seems most people are involved with sports in some capacity, but not everyone continues to pursue athletics growing up. Some people in the office who participated in sports but never got a shot at playing professionally might still enjoy using sports analogies while conducting business.

To try and stave off possible confusion in the work place, here are the definitions of some sports analogies and their origins.

“The ball’s in your court:”

A saying that is used to signify the next action on something needs to be done by you or someone else or there will be a standstill.

Example: “I have approved that column and sent it over to Bob. The ball is in his court now.”

In tennis, when a player hits the ball over the net they put it into their opponent’s “court.” A player can only hit a ball that’s in their court.

“A homerun:”

This term would most like be used when something like a project, presentation or idea went very well in their mind.

Example: “I just completed my first interview for that job and it was a homerun. I think they really liked me.”

It originates from baseball/softball when a player hits the ball and they touch all four bases, including home plate, to score a run.

“Full-court press:”

If a team or business is trying to complete a project or goal that requires the attention and effort of a lot of people, someone might use this expression.

Example: “Ask everyone if they can stay late tonight. We are going to have to use a full-court press to complete this presentation by tomorrow.”

This is an aggressive strategy from basketball that makes it difficult for the opposing team to move the ball up the court and involves effort from the entire team.

“Drop the ball:”

When an individual or team makes a mistake.

Example: “Did you notice the typo on that page? He really dropped the ball on that one.”

Used in sports that require carrying or catching a ball, most commonly football in the U.S., where dropping or “fumbling” the ball is an error by the ball carrier.

“Par for the course:”

When an event or meeting goes as expected. It’s an alternate way to say something is “status quo.”

Example: “I couldn’t find anything in the supply closet because the room is a mess, but that’s par for the course around here.”

In golf, to attain the average score the player must total par for the course and the goal is to finish under par or better than average.

“Down to the wire:”

An expression that is used to express that something’s outcome is not decided until the very last minute.

Example: “We were down to the wire on that deadline, but we sent in the document just in time.”

This is a horse racing term that was used when the competition would be decided at the very end. The “wire” comes from the wire that stretches across the racetrack at the finishline.