Most of us mellow as we get older, so my "fingernails on a chalkboard" list has narrowed over the years:
1. Campaign signs placed on public property. (You know who you are, City Council candidates!)
2. E-mails that begin, "I have contacted you to help me secure the sum of...."
3. The use of "we" and "us" by sports broadcast analysts.
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These jobs are dominated by former players. Especially those broadcasts devoted to a particular team or school.
Len Dawson and the Chiefs, Frank White and the Royals.
Chris Piper with the Jayhawks, Stan Weber with the Wildcats.
The list goes on, and that's a good thing. No one can break down what's going on in a game better than a former player or coach.
Key word: former.
It's when the analyst inserts himself back onto the team —"We're doing a good job against the run" or "Colorado's throwing a full-court press at us" — that my brain begins to hurt.
I'm sure I'm in the minority, and I'll chalk some of that up to being a sportswriter who's supposed to be objective — to the point I made sure I didn't wear either team's colors to a game I was covering.
Sure, fans want someone on their side calling their team's game. But there's varying levels of advocacy.
Mike Kennedy and former Wichita State player Dave Dahl have been doing Shocker games on the radio for 31 years. From the first second of the pregame show to the signoff, it's hard to imagine a more prepared duo.
Dahl remembers Kennedy giving him only two pieces of advice when they started in 1980. The first? Always come prepared. The second?
"You shouldn't use 'we' or 'us,' " Dahl said. "I know that we're going to hope Wichita State wins and plays well, but you have to maintain a certain appearance of objectivity and it's just a word we need to stay away from."
Some can't stay away.
Piper of the Jayhawk Network seems to be the biggest user. Then again, the guy has a Kansas national championship ring — that's a fraternity of no more than 40 or 45 members — so maybe he gets a pass for "we" and "us."
Craig Steven, TV analyst for WSU games, had to make a quick transition from Shocker player to analyst in the mid-2000s.
"The first two years I was very devoted," Steven said. "I felt like I was still part of the team. My emotions were impacted because I played for the coach (Mark Turgeon) and I played with the players.
"Now, the older I've gotten, I'm able to separate."
And 99 percent of the time, Steven's use of "we" and "us" references he and TV partner Bruce Haertl.
But there's that 1 percent.
"When I catch myself doing it, I tell myself I shouldn't have done that," Steven said. "Then again, it's Wichita State basketball. We're doing this for Wichita State and the fans. We're not doing it for Evansville."