"finesse", the adjective

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 3 16:32:31 UTC 2012

"Finesse" in soccer is a rough equivalent of "skating" in hockey. When
you listen to hockey discussions, "skater" might just as well be a
"pansy". But in more proper circles (TV commentary) "good skater" means
a fast, technical, but not a power player. In soccer, technique is often
highly valued and raw power disparaged. Not so in baseball, hence the
difference. Describing someone as a "finesse player" in baseball implies
lack of power, not abundance of technical precision. In soccer, a
"finesse player" can dribble around defenders as if they were planted
trees, and place the shot. A "power player" runs over the defenders and
boots the ball in the hope that it's on target--a low probability


On 8/10/2012 9:56 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> Miscellaneous thoughts:
> Ben should update his 2005 column to add soccer, where in contrast to
> football or baseball "finesse" is I think always complimentary.
> One may not be able to say "The Japanese squad seems finesse", but
> then one is not able to say "The team seems finesse" either.  (I use
> the royal "one".)  So does the adj + noun in "Japanese squad" make
> any difference?
> "We are not a finesse team" *sounds* OK to me -- I add air quotes;
> but I'd prefer to *read* those quotation marks around "finesse".
> Similarly, if I had seen "a similar strategy by the 'finesse'
> Japanese squad", I would have been less disturbed, reading it as "the
> Japanese squad of finesse".
> I react to "The power American squad" in the same way as to
> "finesse", but with the added difficulty that I wonder whether the
> writer meant "powerful" instead.
> Joel

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