There's no such thing as permanent suspension!

Wed, Sep 1

Thanks to a pending felony sexual-assault charge, the University of Missouri announced that running back Derrick Washington has been "permanently suspended." Which just doesn't make sense.

Not the suspension. The semantics.

According to a report from's David Ubben, the school has closed the door on Washington having an opportunity to return to the program. Which isn't a suspension. It's a dismissal. A ban. Perhaps an expulsion.

A permanent one, if you like.

A suspension implies that something will resume, or at least change, at some point in the future. By definition, a suspension can't be permanent. It may last a really long time. But not forever. Movies don't have "permanent suspensions." They end. The Romans didn't permanently suspend empire operations. Their empire was sacked, dismantled and destroyed.

Look, I don't mean to harp on a minor point. It's just that language clarity isn't as minor as it seems. I regularly make imprecise word choices. I regret every one. Why? Because they muddle and undercut what I'm trying to say. In a sports world overrun with the kind of unthinking gobbledygook and euphemistic doublespeak, that would be instantly recognizable to George Orwell -- a sports world that increasingly sounds like its political counterpart -- it's up to all of us to say what we mean and mean what we say instead of using words that kinda sorta sound serious and official and weighty.

Washington's gone. He's never coming back. Put that in your news release.