There Is No "I" In "Team" And Other Linguistic Coincidences Masquerading As Sports Wisdom


Etymologically Based Self-Abnegation Bias In Contemporary Sports Slogans:
A Narcissistically Revisionist Examination

We are now releasing the first fruits of the Psychoetymologic Institute’s study: The Fallacious Linguistics And Flawed Insights Of Sports Slogans.

OK, technically, the very first fruit of these efforts was the belated realization that, on careful examination of the exact spelling of “fallacious linguistics,” one is morally obliged to acknowledge that this area of study has nothing at all to do with oral sex.

But the first fruit after that disappointment was a groundbreaking revelation that challenges the foundation upon which our educational system and, indeed, our culture in general, is based.

Those of us in the baby-boomer cohort (at least those of us in the baby-boomer cohort who were male and who came into contact with a physical education teacher or coach) have been indoctrinated with certain convictions by repeated exposure to the apophthegm that is the immediate focus of this study, …

The Difference Between Champ And Chump Is “U”

While this truism is, well, true, and DrHGuy, for one, eschews the sort of persnicketiness that leads to criticisms of this axiom’s requirement that one accept “U” as an equivalent to “you,” the interpretation of this adage has always generated in DrHGuy a counterintuitive discomfort, a sense that the maxim, standing on its own, was incomplete.

The tipping point that transforms that ambiguous awareness into concrete terms was the invocation of the equally true, contrapuntal clause that had previously been, overlooked by scholars and, some suspect, suppressed by the motivational sign industry,

The Difference Between Champ And Chump Is “A”

The fastidious reader may by now be muttering that the still more inclusive as well as more precise statement would be

The difference between champ and chump is that champ is spelled
with an “a” while chump has an “u” in that same position.

As DrHGuy points out, “Well, la dee da.”1 These days, if a philosophy doesn’t fit on a size medium t-shirt, it’s useless.

Returning to a consideration of the slogan itself, if “U” can represent “You,” why cannot “A” represent, for example, “Asshole” (or, in the vernacular “A-hole”)? Or perhaps the “A” has to do with the grade for academic excellence or even the seemingly trivial indefinite article used metaphorically as a linguistic version of “For want of a nail … .” In any case, “A” is certainly as significant a factor as “U” in determining the variation between champ and chump, yet only the “U” is featured in the original catchphrase; consequently, the validity of this shibboleth must be called into question.

The “A” Vs “U”/Champ Vs Chump theorem is not one set forth cavalierly. This new complexity will no doubt cause consternation among middle school and high school coaches who will be forced to alter thousands of posters. Yet, intellectual integrity permits no other action.

There Is No “I” In “Team”

Work has also begun on the related aphorism, There Is No “I” In “Team.” The Language Arts & Small Internal Combustion Engine Mechanics Team at McHenry Community College has reported sporadic sightings of an “i” located between the “a” and “m” of team. It turns out that this “i” had gone undetected for lo these many years because

  1. Historically, researchers had, for reasons that are unclear, assumed that if an “i” existed in “team,” it would be located between the “e” and the “a.”
  2. The “i” is written in extremely small script (a font-size officially titled either “itty-bitty teeny-weeny” or “smaller than the heart of an HMO Financial Director”).

DrHGuy has developed the corollary that even if there is no “i” in “team,” a simple rearrangement of the letters in “team” demonstrates that there is indeed a “me” in “team.”

In a burst of intellectual creativity, he has also noted that “There may be no “i” In “Team”, but there are certainly two “i’s in “idiot.”

This is heady stuff with the potential to place e belief system in jeopardy. One can all too easily envisage the havoc wrought when hordes of run-and-gun athletes, no longer restrained by this team-building motto, revert to their native ideology (e.g., “Passing sucks; I’m taking the shot myself”) and consequent self-serving behaviors.

Finally, DrHGuy is pondering the still speculative link that may exist between these idioms and the wisdom country-western lyrics attribute to similar linguistic events. The prime example of this genre is doubtless the famous Eddy Arnold tune, “The Last Word In Lonesome Is Me.”

DrHGuy’s parallel, equally heart-rending, yet, inexplicably enough, less famous and currently unpublished, offering is “The First Word In Mess Is Me.”

With respect to “me,” one also notes that

  • Arguably the worst of the versions of Microsoft Windows is “Windows Me.”
  • The abbreviation for the state of Maine is “Me.”
  • Missouri’s nickname is “The Show-Me State.”
  • The middle word in “someone” “someplace” and “somehow” is “me” and, thus, the middle words of “someone, someplace, somehow” (which was DrHGuy’s dating mantra during medical school) is “me me me.”

Now, that’s motivational.

Note: Originally posted March 9, 2006 at, a predecessor of


  1. If DrHGuy is in a more nihilistic mode, he may opt for “la dee dada” []