Friday, June 10, 2011

Oh, shut up

As the AP Stylebook reminds us, manic depression's a frustrating mess -- so as a copy editor, the last thing you want to do is help your sports writers spread the stuff around before you can get it all cleaned up:

With each ebb and flow of this turbulent playoff riptide, Heat fans have been caught in an emotional tempest, flying high with every win, and burning with anger upon every defeat.

But these seemingly bipolar outbursts of rage interspersed with episodes of euphoria are absolutely normal, say mental health professionals. In fact, scientific studies have attempted to quantify and explain the phenomenon.

Ian Mayes, who used to be reader rep at the Grauniad, has been a frequent critic of journalism's haphazard use of the terminology of mental health. This seems the sort of usage that ought to draw the undecided into his camp. Suppose we can keep dark hints of bipolar rage out of a feature about, you know, sports fans being slightly more than their usually annoying selves?

Researchers say the swings between elation and depression are a natural reaction to hormones the body releases when one receives an outcome it desires — or one it abhors.

I don't want to paste the whole dreary feature* here, but this sentence is worth noting just for the antecedence. "It" doesn't point back to "one," it points back to "the body." So your vile body wanted the Heat to win, but your spirit self has to put up with the mundane neurochemical outcome?

Please stop it -- you in Miami, and you in Dallas and Boston and Vancouver and anywhere else you're tempted to reach for "just what this reeling city needed" or "held this country in the palm of his leather-clad hand." It's a game. Stop it.

* But since The Ridger was asking recently after real-life examples of the complementizing comma, here's the lede: The Miami Heat’s troubling pattern of late-game collapses in the NBA Finals has so infuriated Eric Reed, he had to run a mile and a half — at 3:30 in the morning — just to fall asleep after the latest loss.

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