The new general manager of the Las Vegas National Hockey League franchise, George McPhee, either coined or midwifed a delightful new phrase that we should all adopt into our daily lives.
Think about it for a second. Rolls right off the brain and tongue at the same time, like “anti-joy” or “minus-glee,” or the worst of all, Pokemon Go.
McPhee was talking about the unpleasant task of letting players go, but he’s done it enough times to have come up with the perfect bit of non-speak to define it. And as he is about to become the general manager of an expansion team, he is going to get enough negative fun in his day to turn Disneyland into North Korea.
But that’s his problem, and we are here merely to deal with the gift he has given us. For example, if this is not the ideal name for a newfangled baseball metric, I don’t know what is: “That’s another NF outing for Sonny Gray, who leads the American League in the statistic by five units over Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer,” or “That’s another NF for the Giants bullpen, and it is amazing that they have the best record in baseball with that kind of number.”
Of course, one would have to take care not to confuse it with “MF” and a colloquialism of an entirely different kind.
But NF can mean so many other things. A last-second buzzer-beating loss ... losing out in a negotiation with a high-priced free agent, or being the commissioner who has to explain why high-priced free agents going to good teams are a sign of the Apocalypse, or ramming your bike into a motorized TV camera and essentially ruining your chances of winning the Tour De France, or, frankly, anything whatsoever.
Example: The Giants are an average of 66 fans per game down from last year’s attendance, while the Royals are up 66 fans. This clearly means by the Fourth Law of Internet Guesstimation ("Every number is fraught with meaning, whether it is or not") that 66 Giants fans have moved to Kansas City based on their need to follow the defending world champion whomever it might be, and Larry Baer has assigned someone in the Giants’ front office to get the names of those people and send One-Eyed Guido to pay them a visit. This is a job that is clearly NF.
Or the next time Kevin Durant must explain why he is not an actual emissary of Satan, he will get an NF, because that’s what that question is -- a loser whether you answer it or not.
Even the magic numbers that eliminate teams from playoff contention can be turned into an NF statistic. All it takes is the will to take a perfectly easy concept like “magic number,” stand it on its head and then use it to beat a losing team about the face and neck.
It can be used as McPhee intended it, and “cutdown day” can become “the NF deadline.” Or as a putdown for a league which regulates everything from celebration duration to improper use of pink just because the stuffed shirt brigade wants every team to be the 1953 Cleveland Browns, hence the soon-to-be commonplace phrase, “You can’t spell ‘NFL’ without ‘NF.’”
It can be used to describe an injury in hockey, now that “upper body and “lower body” have become such jokes. “That looks like a NF sprain for Burns, and he could miss some time.”
It can be appropriated when a commissioner, owner, general manager, coach, marketing director or general franchise nuisance without portfolio comes to address the media (or as those outside the sport prefer to call it, lying), such an event can be listed on a reporter’s expense sheet as, “NF Day, 8 hours.”
There are as many ways to use NF as the imagination allows. It can describe a mild irritant, or a disastrous turn of events, like “Tom Brady had some NF yesterday thanks to the Second Circuit Court, but may decide to MF the NFL anyway.” That’s combining two terms, and in Acronym World, frantically combining initials under the mistaken impression that acting like a Morse code transmitter with shoes is somehow the same as drinking yourself handsome. Lots of people believe that, which is why the birthrate continues to plummet.
In any event, we live in a world where words are used only by lawyers, the bedridden and the dead, and where emojis are considered something more profound than the second-grade art projects they actually are. So why not NF? It’s time has come as surely as trending, the hashtag and drooling helplessly into a bucket when asked a direct question.
So why not “negative fun?” Sure, it could endanger such elegant phrases as “This sucks,” or “Bite me,” but the language, like our culture is fluid, and there are always new frontiers of communication.
Like Pokemon Go, which is actually just one more sign that our soon-to-be alien overlords are going to pass on colonizing the planet and rather just have it zoned as an intergalactic zoo. Which is still better than we deserve.