List of Sports Idioms - D


down and out
BoxingVV: Lacking money or prospects; penniless or destitute. A boxer who is "down" has been knocked to the canvas, and one who is also "out" is unconscious or unable to resume the fight; thus a down-and-out boxer is utterly defeated. AHDI states the term "probably" came from boxing, circa 1900; OED references boxing rather obliquely, and cites first figurative usage to 1889.
down for the count; out for the count
Boxing: To be defeated. Refers to a boxer being knocked down; the referee will count off ten seconds, the time allotted for the boxer to regain his feet or lose the fight. Down for the count may imply a temporary setback, as down does not necessarily imply out. AHDI dates "down for the count" to the 1920s; OED cites out for the count to 1930. Compare take the full count, below.
down to the wire
Horse racing: To the very end or last minute. From the length of wire stretched across a racetrack at the finish line. AHDI dates its figurative use to about 1900.
drop the ball
Baseball, rugby, American football, etc: To make an error, to miss an opportunity. In games where a ball may be legally caught (e.g. baseball) or carried (e.g. American football), a player (or the player's team) may be penalized for dropping the ball; for example, an American football player who drops a ball ("fumbles") risks having the ball recovered and carried by the other team; in baseball, a player who drops a thrown or batted ball may be charged with an error. AHDI dates the figurative usage to about the 1950s. Compare carry the ball, above.
drop the gloves
Ice hockey: To engage in a fight, whether figurative or literal. Refers to the act of hockey players throwing off their gloves to punch with bare knuckles.

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