Dep’t of Dead Language

The Olympics, in keeping with its venerable tradition, has been chasing younger viewers by adding new events. But beach volleyball, tacky though it may be,* is never going to grab the youth like Grand Theft Auto II or Mortal Combat.
*Did I say ‘tacky’? Yes I did.
In recent years, however, a new sport has arisen that promises to make kick-boxing look like badminton. From the turbulent border between sports and politics comes
In just the last month, dozens of sports figures, politicians, and Hollywood projects have been thrown under buses. Some have been thrown under buses more than once. Though sometimes the opportunity to participate in this burgeoning new sport has been refused, many people, in all walks of life, have known the thrill of throwing things under buses.
The Olympic version of this sport will include a wide spectrum of events:
  • Throwing Grandma under the bus (lightweight division)
  • Throwing John Edwards under the bus (middleweight division)
  • Throwing Bill Parcells under the bus (heavyweight division)
  • Throwing quarterbacks under the bus (two in the trials, three in the finals)
  • Throwing oneself under the bus (a demonstration event in 2012)
  • Throwing a guy under the bus while staving off wolves (a summer version of the biathlon)
  • Throwing the White Sox under the bus (a bus-throwing marathon)
Though its popularity is new, throwing people under the bus has its roots in ancient Rome and India, where during certain holy days people would be thrown under the wheels of chariots or juggernauts. It fell out of favor during the Dark Ages because vehicles were scarce, but took off again in the Age of Steam when throwing things under locomotives became a fad. After 1890 the advent of bicycles and then automobiles threatened to confine the sport to certain less-developed countries that still retained their transit systems.
Now, however, as public transportation makes a comeback in American cities, buses, trolleys, and even trains are again plentiful enough to allow for mass participation, the formation of leagues, and a competitive structure leading to the national championship to be held this year in New York. Recognition of the sport by the Olympics has sealed the cap on its renaissance.*
*The alert reader will have noticed, in examining the sources below, that not throwing things under the bus is popular too. But of course anyone can not-throw just about anything, whether it’s javelins or Bill Parcells.
I suppose there could be a sort of Puritan Olympics in which people refrained from acts they very much wanted to perform. But it would be hard to tell the not-jumpers from the not-runners. On the other hand, you wouldn’t need a fancy pool for the not-swimmers, or big salaries for the not-announcers. And not-watching would take no time at all.
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  • Howe — a past manager in Houston, Oakland and with the New York Mets — wasn’t going to throw his current boss and longtime A’s third base coach under the bus.
  • Eury’s call backfired when Earnhardt was forced to pit under a caution soon after, relegating him to the back of the pack. Junior, who had started second, finished 22nd and dropped from second to fourth in the Chase for the Championship.
    Earnhardt wouldn’t throw Eury under the bus, however.
    ”A guy that has dedicated himself and devoted himself, sacrificed as much as he has, it gets kind of harsh sometimes,” Earnhardt said.
  • Adam Jones said to bring on the criticism if he had a repeat performance of the preseason opener at San Diego.
    There was no need to throw him under the bus after the way he played Saturday night in Denver.
  • Then there’s the matter of who’s got skills. Bay isn’t willing to throw himself under the bus (“I don’t think she got all the talent”), but he’s able to acknowledge the weaknesses in his game.
  • “The first preseason game, I always play [poorly],” Jones said earlier in the week. “We’ll just see how I play this weekend. If I do that same [expletive] I did last weekend this weekend, y’all just throw me up under the bus. But I doubt that’s going to happen again.”
  • He said Mendoza “just didn’t have it,” but wasn’t ready to put him on the next plane to Oklahoma City.
    ”I’m not going to throw that kid under the bus,” Washington said. “He’s out there trying. He has [shown progress]. It just hasn’t been consistent.”
  • He wouldn’t reveal those so-called lies, but the trouble centered around an ankle that Kaman confesses is still sore.
    “I don’t want to throw the Clippers under the bus,” he said, just after, well, he did say they lied to him. Kaman didn’t seem angry, just disappointed. After all, this hasn’t been the easiest summer to be a Clipper. Elton Brand is gone and a little part of Kaman’s Clippers heart left with him.
  • Halladay wasn’t completely fault-free as he allowed 10 hits and, uncharacteristically, walked in a run with the bases loaded.
    Afterwards, he wasn’t about to throw anybody under the bus.
    ”They were getting guys on base and making me work,” Halladay said. “It was a grind. I had to work a lot.”
  • “It’s imperative we throw our support behind Alex, as opposed to throwing him under the bus, as I inexplicably did last season by the way we handled his shoulder injury.
  • While Muhammad was quick to throw his quarterbacks under the bus during his stay here, they did their best to stay out of the fray. Kyle Orton said he had no reaction.
  • Favre surfaced months later and expected the team to welcome him back with open arms, which did not happen. To the Packers’ credit, they did not throw Aaron Rodgers under the bus.
  • “If a guy has a first-time offense, I don’t believe in throwing that guy under the bus to try to stave off the wolves, so to speak,” Richt said.
  • The book title, “The Audacity of Hope,” of course, comes from a speech by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s former pastor, from whom Obama decided to distance himself when it became clear that he would forever be a political liability if the senator didn’t “throw him under the bus,” in the parlance of urban wheeling and dealing.
  • ‘’As a team, we’re incensed that Rick Mahorn was suspended,’’ Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from Houston, where the Shock were scheduled to play the Comets. ‘’He was trying to be a peacemaker and now he’s being thrown under the bus.’’
  • “We’re not throwing Todd Jones under the bus,” Leyland explained. “The reason Todd Jones is not the closer right now is because the quality of his pitches and the location of his pitches was not good enough.
  • It’s time for somebody to throw Bill Parcells under the bus.
  • His bombshell declaration put his political future into cardiac arrest. Even former admirers lined up to throw him under the bus.
  • Another couple were baseball fans and asked him if he was for the Twins or the White Sox. “If you think I’m going to throw my White Sox under the bus because I’m here in Minnesota, that’s not going to happen,” Obama said.
  • “He’s never been afraid to throw nominees under the bus,” Spence said. “In his own election in ’06, you know, he abandoned every Republican on the ticket, so the fact that he’s wishy-washy in his comments now is nothing new for him.”
  • When, late last year, Joe Drake came on board and assumed Mr. Block’s responsibilities, the first thing he did, in time-honored Hollywood fashion, was throw his predecessor's remaining projects under the bus.
  • Discrimination has become so openly accepted that—in a speech meant to tamp down his association with a black racist—Obama felt perfectly comfortable throwing his white grandmother under the bus. He used her as the white racist counterpart to his black racist “old uncle,” Rev. Wright.
  • Addendum: For more on throwing under the bus, see Wikipedia s.v.; David Segal, “Time to hit the brakes on that cliche: the accelerating odds of getting thrown under a bus on the campaign trail” Washington Post, 1 May 2008.

    LinkAugust 22, 2008 in Language