Amid the cacophony of clich�s, even the casual sports fan will notice a relative newcomer in the field of prefab excuses for wrongdoing—a new catchall used by sports figures to cover boo-boos petty and grand.
November 1996 UCLA fires basketball coach Jim Harrick for lying about a recruiting dinner on his expense report.
Harrick: "I made an error in judgment to protect my players."
Better judgment Get boosters and agents to foot bill.
January 1997 Former WHL coach Graham James pleads guilty to sexually assaulting two teenage players more than 300 times.
Defense lawyer Lorne Scott: "[It was] a terrible, terrible error in judgment."
Better judgment 300 fewer terrible, terrible errors.
July 1997 A Notre Dame assistant coach fails to report that Irish football booster Kim Dunbar had paid players' ways to Las Vegas.
NCAA infractions committee: "[This was] an error in judgment."
Better judgment Tell Dunbar that CJ's Pub in South Bend is closer, cheaper and has karaoke on Wednesdays.
November 1998 Blue Jays skipper Tim Johnson, later a Brewers scout, admits he lied about having served in Vietnam.
Brewers G.M. Dean Taylor: "He's made an error in judgment."
Better judgment Leave phony Nam heroics to Stallone.
April 1999 UConn point guard Khalid El-Amin is busted for pot.
UConn coach Jim Calhoun: "This was an error in judgment."
Better judgment Cigarettes are more effective for weight loss.
April 1999 Wichita State pitcher (and future Cubs draft pick) Ben Christensen beans Evansville's Anthony Molina in on-deck circle.
Chicago general manager Ed Lynch: "For three seconds [Christensen] made a terrible error in judgment."
Better judgment Hurl witticisms, not beanballs.
Autumn 1999 Bears defensive coordinator Greg Blaches gives out bullets as rewards for big defensive plays.
Chicago coach Dick Jauron: "It's an error in judgment that we made."
Better judgment Ever heard of lollipops?
December 1999 Hoop magazine, official publication of the NBA, airbrushes tattoos and jewelry from picture of cover subject Allen Iverson (above).
NBA spokesman Brian McIntyre: "An overexuberant person in our organization made a decision.... It was an error in judgment."
Better judgment Embrace the modern player, tats and all.
April 2000 Winston Cup driver Jeremy Mayfield's crew uses illegal fuel additive.
Team co-owner Michael Kranefuss: "Mistakes were made, and there were certainly some grave errors in judgment."
Better judgment Save the hooch for Victory Lane celebrations.