SI Vault
Steve Rushin
December 22, 2003
It is now possible in sports to hold a meaningful conversation entirely in acronyms or initials, as when Shaquille O'Neal, asked which teams ought to be in the BCS title game, answered, "LSU-USC."
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December 22, 2003

Btw Bcs, Usc Tops Lsu In Yacs

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Which isn't to say this knowledge is worthless. Quite the contrary. The World Wildlife Fund defeated the World Wrestling Federation in a legal cage match for exclusive rights to the lucrative monogram WWF. Yet South Carolina persists in billing itself, with impunity, as USC, all but asking for a legal smackdown with the rightful owner, Southern Cal. ( Oklahoma State and Oregon State should likewise cede OSU to the Buckeyes.)

My father, in all seriousness, once asked several North Dakota hockey fans, before a North Dakota hockey game played in North Dakota, why they were all wearing Notre Dame sweaters. To him, an interlocking ND trimmed in green could only stand for Notre Dame, even in Grand Forks. No such confusion exists for Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, whose singular (and euphonious) abbreviation is the same coming and going: IUPUI.

In sports there's no end to these secret handshakes. Stephon Marbury wears PHX on his jersey and WWJD on his wrist. We know what they stand for, because we know shorthand: NCAA, UTEP, ERA, RBI, DNP, BMX, ACC NBA, MSG, SEG, HR and OT-all on ESPN, in HDTV.

Which brings us to SI. In New York newspaper headlines, Staten Island is often abbreviated as S.I., so that it's not uncommon to read, over your morning coffee, S.I. MAN VICTIM OF BRUTAL ASSAULT. Such headlines are sometimes tacked to cubicle doors by aggrieved SI writers, who feel their copy was savagely molested in editing. Editors, BTW, seldom LOL at the joke.

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