The following post is one of my pet peeves in life. It involves the effective usage of words in a manner that I feel is underhanded and ultimately deceptive.



In America, we have a very popular sport caled "football" (not to be confused with that other more globally popular sport that we Americans call "soccer"). And the exact length of an American football field (the playing surface, NOT the end zone and the spectator's bleachers) is one hundred yards. Almost ALL Americans know that one little numeric factoid. It's prudent to point out that the WIDTH of an American football field is not anywhere near as well-known to your typical layman (off hand, I dont know the width myself), but the length is universally known by Americans. The field itself is numerically marked off by yards with the numbers themselves painted/chalked right onto the grass. We have many expressions related to the game and to the yardage that is so clearly measured upon the field. Expressions like:

"the fifty-yard line"
"dancing in the end zone"
"an end-run"

For anyone not familiar (I kinda doubt that, but ytou never know), here's a drawing of what the field looks like, and YES, the yardage numbers themselves are ALWAYS found clearly marked onto the grass just like this:




Here's a photo of a typical footbal field:






Now, one hundred yards is the same as 300 feet. And 300 feet is a considerable distance, but my point here is that it's not TERRIBLY long.



--300 feet is only a little bit loger than 7 school busses parked in a row (40 feet of length to one bus). Most modern elementary schools have bus circles long enough to accomodate no less than eight school busses parked end-to-end at 2:00 PM every afetrnoon as they await the dismissal of the kiddies.







--300 feet is the distance covered by six telephone poles along a country highway (50 feet apart)







I'm not saying I could jog that distance in a mere five seconds flat. What I am instead trying to say is that I find it a cheap shot whenever anyone employs the phrase "the size of a football field" or "as long as a foootball field" (or any other variation on that) whenever trying to explain that something is one hundred yards. Courtroom lawyers do it a lot and I think it's sneaky and rotten. The reason I hate it is that what they're REALLY doing is NOT drawing a comparison to this:











They are instead trying to conjur in the minds of their listeners (or perhaps in the minds of the jury) THIS:






And THAT is a deceptive image they are attempting to invoke.




The usage of words is what we writers do. And I think this particular usage of words is NOT intellectually honest.