In defense of profanity

Now that HBO has added hockey to its slate of sports documentaries, it's clear that NFL coaches aren't the only ones dropping F-bombs.

In a recent halftime pep talk recorded by the "24/7" cameras, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau drops 15 of them in 80 seconds, mostly adjectives. His commissioner Gary Bettman was quick to respond.

With a shrug.

To which I say kudos. Hockey is not supposed to be rated G. HBO is not on Nickelodeon. Earlier the cable network broadcast the salty language of Jets coach Rex Ryan. His mother was horrified, but his fans giggled heartily and then went to get a ... snack.

Ryan, like Boudreau, was authentic. You know what's more offensive than hearing a bunch of blankety blanks? Hearing coaches use so many cliches and meaningless phrases that they aren't actually saying anything. That happens a lot in sports, and it's boring and it's phony -- to quote Holden Caulfield, another famous potty mouth.

Neither coach used those words to single out a player in an abusive way, or to belittle someone. Ryan used some adjectives for emphasis, and heck it was a completely effective way of communicating with his players. Bart Scott even said he loves Rex because the coach talks like them.

Because that's how you talk to your friends, to people you're close to. You don't compliment your mother at a formal dinner by telling her the Thanksgiving turkey is #*@! fantastic, but if you live every minute like your mom is watching you then HBO isn't going to show up with the cameras.

There are certain things you can't relax about in sports. But if you can't let down your guard in front of guys who need to be motivated to be human battering rams, how are they going to lay it on the line for you?

Ryan and Boudreau are grownups, and grownups are allowed to use those words. (At least that's how I explain it to the kids.) It would not work at IBM, but hockey and football aren't exactly corporate America. And shouldn't be. Take Ryan on for his weight, his decisions on the field, whether he tips well enough at restaurants -- whether he can back up his Super Bowl talk on the field.

But don't give him #*$% for how he talks.