Monday, August 18, 2008

Michael Phelps: Military Strongman?

The digital age has spawned a need for tremendous amounts of sports content, and no one has taken advantage better than ESPN. But sometimes the mad dash to get stuff on the air creates some interesting situations. This weekend, before American Michael Phelps was to swim for his record 8th gold medal, anchor Reischea Candidate announced on ESPN News that "Phelps has already won seven gold medals and tonight goes for the coup d'etat." ESPN's foreign language department needs to do a better job briefing its anchors, because the definition of a coup d'etat is "the sudden overthrow of a government by a usually small group of persons in or previously in positions of authority." It's French for blow or strike (coup) to the state (etat). I'm guessing what Candidate meant to say what that Phelps was trying for the coup de grace ("blow of mercy"), another French term which means a mercy killing intended to end the suffering of an animal (or in this case, swimmers).

What's interesting about the mixup is that because ESPN apparently tapes segments of ESPN News for several replays, the malaprop was repeated at least one more time on the network. This raises some interesting questions, namely--1) Should the "worldwide leader in sports" be repeating canned material, especially when it's wrong? 2) Doesn't ESPN have enough money and personnel to air ESPN News live, especially when breaking news is going on? 3) Who's in charge of editing/proofing at the network? 4) Does Candidate write her own material? 5) Did she take a foreign language in college? 6) When will reporters realize that the use of foreign language phrases in sports reporting is way overdone? ("Coming up ... did Barry Bonds flunk his urine test? 'Oui, oui!'")

It may be that only me and my French-major brother caught this mistake, but if credibility and accuracy are still important in sports journalism then at least fix the problem before it airs again.


Blogger P_J said...

Maybe she just meant "coup" in the sense of an accomplishment or significant achievement. But there's quite a difference between a coup and a coup d'etat.

I hadn't heard the Barry Bonds "Oui, oui" comment, but that's not bad. It does get overdone, though.

The real question is, Is it all Chris Berman's fault?

11:37 AM  

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