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NCT’s Style Manual: One Georgia Fan’s Guide to Internet Writing and Commenting on College Sports for Fun and Adventure

How we write things often is as important as what we write, especially when it comes to something as important as college sports. Don't you want to get it right?

As some of our regular readers may know already, I have a thing for language and have been known to pick a fight come to the rescue over matters involving grammar and usage. I borrow bits and pieces from various sources like the Chicago Manual of Style, Strunk & White's Elements of Style, and the AP rules, and I have my own guidelines that may or may not be accepted by anyone else, but they make sense to me.

I don't roam around the Internet looking for errors to correct. Language ought to be loose, I believe, on blogs and especially in comments to blogs, because it's an informal medium and has a style of its own, amirite? Plus part of my love of language is a fascination with slang and jargon, and teh Interwebz has fostered the development of its own. This should be encouraged.

Over the several years I've been visiting blogs and message boards discussing college sports, I've found that I usually adhere to certain rules specific to the method and subject of discussion. I offer here a few of those rules and some accompanying observations. What follows is meant to be descriptive (of me) and not prescriptive (for you). However, my rules are correct, so if you choose to follow them, you also will be correct. You're welcome.

There are a lot of rules in my head, and I hope to catalogue all of them. But if I waited until I'd written them all down in one place, it might be years before you got any benefit from my work. We have to start somewhere, so here we go.

The most important aspect of my rules is nomenclature. What do we call the various subjects of our discussion -- the schools, teams, games? In this installment, we discuss a few names of interest to Georgia fans.

The Southeastern Conference may be abbreviated as "SEC". "SEC" is preferred when commenting. The full name and the abbreviation are equally suitable otherwise. This ain't the New York Times. When it is clear that the conference being discussed is the SEC, it may also be referred to as "the Conference" (capitalized): "The SEC has had a few membership changes over the years. Schools have come and gone. Tulane was one of the Conference's charter members but now participates in intercollegiate athletics with something called C-USA." Similarly, one may refer to the University of Georgia as, simply, "the University". When referring to the SEC, one also may borrow from Friend of the Blogger Holly Anderson and use "God's Conference". I do not know if it's original to Holly, but her work is where I remember first seeing it. Speaking of Tulane, two other charter members of the Conference have moved on: Tech and Sewanee.

There currently are ten members of the Southeastern Conference, and they are to be referred to as follows (in alphabetical order).

  • Bama (Alabama is permitted but not preferred)
  • Auburn (AU permitted)
  • Florida (UF permitted)
  • UGA (Georgia permitted and nearly equally preferred)
  • Kentucky
  • LSU (never Louisiana State)
  • Mississippi State
  • Ole Miss (never Mississippi or the University of Mississippi)
  • Tennessee (UT and even UTK permitted)
  • Vandy (Vanderbilt permitted but not preferred)

Terms such as "Aubarn", "Bammer", and "Floriduh" are prohibited, but "Abuurn" is acceptable. Similarly, childish insults made from mascot names (e.g., "Gayturds") are strictly prohibited. If you're not sure what I mean by "childish", let me know in the comments, and I'll try to explain. We'll have more on mascots in a later installment.

Do not toy with capitalization. Never write the name of a program using a minuscule letter as an intentional attempt to demean said program. If you do it because you have an e e cummingsesque fetish or a medical condition that makes you hypersensitive to the shift key, you may be excused. Otherwise, this is an inappropriate way to express disdain. Disdain of rival programs, however, is encouraged -- just use some imagination and be funny. Subtlety is good. Expressing disdain when it appears that I'm discussing something else altogether is one of my favorite pastimes.

When you are prepared to acknowledge there actually are fourteen members of the SEC (either because you were reminded after forgetting or because your topic compels you to discontinue your feint of ignorance), the additional four members are to be referred to as follows.

  • Arkansas
  • South Carolina
  • Mizzou (Missouri permitted)
  • Texas A&M (A&M, TA&M permitted)

(Note: those last two? I'm not completely sure yet. It's so -- new. I reserve the right to amend.)

UPDATE: It's been brought to my attention on Facebook that Texas A&M fans like to abbreviate their school name as "TAMU". I have no particular animosity (yet) to Aggies that would prompt me to avoid, intentionally, something they like, so I'll try to keep that in mind. I also am advised that they refer to the geographic area around College Station as "Aggieland", but I think I won't be able to bring myself to use it. We'll see.

A few other schools around the NCAA:

  • Southern Cal (specifically because their media guides ask people not to use it)
  • VPI (never Virginia Tech)
  • Ohio State (never The Ohio State University)
  • Tech (Georgia Tech, GT, North Avenue Trade School (the Trade School, NATS) all permitted)

A few words on a few place names: it is appropriate to refer to Athens as "the Classic City" (or "the Center of the Universe"), to Auburn as "the Plains", to Tech as "the Flats", and to Clemson as "Auburn with a Lake". It also is acceptable to refer to any town that ends in "-ville" as "-vegas", as in "Starkvegas". This is meant to be playful, not demeaning. (Because honestly, why does anyone need to go out of his way to demean Starkvegas?)

Please feel free to ask for additional schools in the comments, and I will be happy to oblige. Also, if you have any concerns about language and usage within the broad subject of college sports and would like some guidance as to what is or isn't correct, please let me know, and I'll try to work it into a future installment or address it in the comments. Future topics I already have in mind are names of facilities, names of rivalries, and bowl games.