To deal with American business persons it is a good idea to understand something about American sports. Many businessmen were athletes in high school and college and have had their way of thinking formed by team sports. It is important to know a little about the most popular sports: football (not soccer), basketball, baseball, golf, and even hockey in some areas.
Sports metaphors and jargon permeate even polite speech. This is because these phrases have become so common in speech that they come to mind outside of sports contexts for many native speakers, to the point where some native speakers may not even consciously realize their use of sports terminology in polite conversation. Below are some common expressions:
- "Run with it" or "Take the ball and run with it"
- "Homerun", "That's a homerun", or "Hit a homerun"
- "Punt", "It's time to punt", "I think we'll have to punt", or "We punted"
- "Hole in one" or "You hit a hole in one"
- "Hail Mary" or "Throw a Hail Mary"
- "Slam dunk" or "It was a slam dunk"
It is expected that conversational partners will understand these. Only those speakers who reflect on the cultural derivation of these expressions will modify their speech for those who do not share similar cultural backgrounds. However, the savvy listener can usually comprehend the meaning of these expressions when heard in context of a discussion.