Often, when watching a basketball game, the announcer will use the phrase “making the extra pass” to praise a team that moves the ball well during a possession. Even when they are just swinging it around the perimeter, from one guy standing 23 feet from the basket, to another, and another, and yet another.
The “extra” pass. So one “extra” pass is always better?
Always? Really? Huh.
Let’s think this through.
When do you know you’ve finally made this “extra” pass, so it’s now OK to shoot?
Seems to me, you only know after the play is over, and you either scored, or you didn’t.
- If you scored, I think it was probably just about the right number of passes. Exactly right, in fact. Call me crazy!
- And if you didn’t, then … “NICE GOING, DUMBASS! WHY DIDN’T YOU SHOOT?! EVER HEARD OF ONE PASS TOO MANY? QUIT FREAKING PASSING THE BALL ALL OVER THE COURT AND JUST PUT IT UP! WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS IS, MINI-CAMP?!”
Everybody’s a critic.
So if by “extra” we mean unnecessary, not integral, fringe, useless, then the “one pass too many” is actually “extra”. I know, I know, it’s so confusing!
But it seems to me that if you’re a player, and if you don’t know you’ve made the “extra” pass until after you’ve made the basket — or the dreaded “one pass too many”, after you’ve missed it — well, by then it’s a little too late to be making decisions about making this “extra” pass. You pretty much need to know during the passing process.
That’s just how decision making works. Sucks, doesn’t it?
But I guess “They scored! And they made exactly the right number of passes and got the best possible shot!” does not really roll off the tongue as well as “he made the extra pass!”.
So it’s cool, I suppose. We’ll just continue to use “extra” instead, even though it is impossible to verify or quantify, and doesn’t make any sense, because it is easier on the announcers.