Seen recently on the cover of a high school football program (we won't say which school, but Barry Bonds went there, and also a certain quarterback who enjoys trying to pick up Olsen twins) Written in big letters, in the center of the page, are the words: Burn The Boats.
"Burn the boats" has become the new business catchphrase, included in the playbook of every motivational speaker who ever appeared at a Ramada Inn banquet room anywhere in the Midwest. Presumably it refers to Conquistador Hernando Cortez, who, upon arriving in Mexico, ordered his men to burn their ships so that there would be no thought of retreat against the Aztecs.
Forget the fact that the Cortez boat-burning story is totally false. Business types have co-opted the phrase as as synonym for commitment, focus and superior attitude. We suspect Enron executives burned their boats. Martha Stewart, obviously. Our President does it all the time. It's another way of saying you'll never go back on a decision, no matter how stupid.
We knew, sadly, it was only a matter of time before the phrase began leaking into the sports lexicon. We're sick of it already, and we've only seen it twice recently — on a prep football program, and as a song by the wonderfully named "The '89 Cubs." Imagine our horror when ESPN begins using it. Soon football coaches everywhere will talk in post-game press conferences of how their team "burned their boats." We predict it will become the next "we're playing this series one game at a time." The implications are terrifying.
Folks, no one in sports is going to be burning any boats, so let's just stop this thing before it starts. Come to think of it though, maybe Fred Smoot should have tried it.