Jul 312002

Anyone who has ever listened to a sports interview has heard it. “John Elway [or your chucklehead of choice] is just gonna try to go out there and be the best quarterback that John Elway can be.” Nobody talks this way except professional athletes, not even college athletes. The locus classicus is Bo Jackson, who employed the Third Person Jock with such stolid consistency that Nike designed an entire advertising campaign around it.

Now it appears that the Third Person Jock has spread to the world of popular music. The Oops Girl was recently caught employing it to help her explain why she cut a concert short after five songs. (Scroll to the end of the story; link from Susanna at Cut on the Bias.) Turns out she was tired: “I think I am just going to take six months off and just have Britney time and just do what Britney wants to do.” Bo would have said, “Bo thinks Bo is just…”, but it’s a start.

My questions are: First, how old is the Third Person Jock? In the famous sports cliche scene from Bull Durham (1988) the Third Person Jock goes unmentioned. Yet I’m sure it dates from before then. Second, where does it come from? Do you get in the habit from reading about yourself in the paper all the time, or what? And third, are there other citations from pop stars, or anyone else outside professional athletics? Or is Britney, as she is in so many other ways, an innovator here as well?

  2 Responses to “The Third Person Jock”

  1. Of course, there’s Bob Dole…

  2. I was thinking of other politicians. Charles "Chuck" Percy, longtime Illinois republican senator, always referred to himself in third person. A friend joked about him ordering at the McDonalds: "Chuck Percy would like a Big Mac and fries, and Chuck Percy’s wife will have the quarter pounder, and a happy meal for Chuck Percy’s son."

    Of course his model may have been a certain other republican we weren’t going to kick around anymore.

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