Romney's use of the phrase "in sport"

I saw a clip on the Daily Show of Romney exclaiming that someone looked like they would be “in sport” but that it had turned out the person wasn’t “in sport” after all.

What Romney meant is what I would express by saying “in sports.”

“Sport” singular is a usage I know of from British dialects. But where in America is this common? I had no idea it was common anywhere over here…

(I can look up where Romney was raised, of course, but I figure there may be a more detailed and/or interesting answer to the question available. For example, is it regional or instead is it class based? If so, how common is it? etc.)

Well, I found this. The author says Romney’s usage is pretty unique, (no cite,) and theorizes that it comes from his aristocratic background (the usage used to be common in that context) together with his missionary experience in France and his involvement with the olympics, where because of the international character of the event the word “sport” is often used the way he used it in the incident in question.

BTW a bit of GD or IMHO here: I used to ridicule people for claiming they wanted to vote for a president “they could have a beer with” and it’d be hypocritical of me to think that non-middle-class mannerisms should disqualify Romney from the role. So I don’t think that. Just in case anyone gets that impression from the OP or the followup.

Aristocratic, my ass. Romney, however much money he has, is solidly upper-middle class, and this strikes as classic upper-middle-class British envy.

Upper-middle class? How many car elevators does one need before he’s considered rich?

This makes me very curious about how you would define the differences between American upper-middle-class and American upper class.

(Please don’t use Paul Fussell’s *Class *as a guide, since those usages are now at least 50 years out of date. They were out of date when he wrote the book 30 years ago.)

Well, we don’t have real aristocrats in the States, obviously. But Romneys father was a millionaire and a powerful politician. And his family was part of a prominent Mormon family descended from one of the original Mormon apostles. So I’d say he’s an aristocrat in the sense of coming from a powerful and wealthy family.

But in any case, I agree its probably something he picked up while managing the Olympics.

Something on the order of $200 million or $250 million, and maybe more than that. He’s extremely rich. I agree the Mother Jones article really has nothing in the way of sourcing, but it’s also true that Romney’s use of “sport” for “sports” was unusual and that it’s something a lot of people might associate with either non-American speakers or with old-time aristocracy.

If you want to abandon the concept of “old money” entirely, and embrace the concept of class as purely a transient effect of how much money you have and who you’ve bought lately, then you have to abandon the concept of aristocracy as well. Mitt Romney’s father was a man on the make, and started from pretty humble beginnings; he wasn’t a millionaire when Mitt was born, nor for years afterward. His political power came entirely from working hard, being smart, and gaining people’s respect. I have no sense that there’s a family legacy there. And the Mormon thing means less than nothing to me.

The Kennedys are upper class, the Bushes are upper class, and the Romneys might be someday, but right now they just have money and notoriety.

It’s something people might associate with those; it’s also something people might associate with thinking that England is classy.

I agree, that was my point. Romney comes from a rich father who himself was part of a wealthy and powerful family.

George became chairman of General Motors when Mitt was six. Dunno when his net worth crossed the “millionaire mark”, but obviously he was wealthy for Mitt’s entire life.

George was poor(ish) in his early life because his family lost their holdings in Mexico during the Revolution. But the extended family was wealthy and well connceted, and probably as close to aristocracy as the Bushs or Kennedys.

But it meant something to his fellow Mormons. It gave him connections in the Church and in Mormon business circles. Which isn’t to discount his personal virtues as well, but he had widespread family connections, despite his fathers turn of bad fortune.

(I don’t mean to turn this into a Great Debate on Mitt Romeny. His family background would be a silly reason to vote for or against him. I just find the Romney family history interesting.)

But that would mean that the upper upper would just now be starting to get comfortable with it.

Nitpick: American Motors. You know, Rambler. Not nearly the same thing as GM.

Chairman of American Motors? Just a regular working joe like you or me. Nothing hoity-toity about them Romneys.

This reads too much like you’re upper class only if your parents were born upper class, which creates problems in the long run (and even short). Joe Kennedy came from comfortable beginnings, not wealthy ones. He was not a millionaire when JFK was born. Prescott Bush came from very comfortable beginnings but I’m pretty sure he was nowhere near a millionaire when George H. W. Bush was born. In any case, the George Romney saga is almost a precise mirror image of theirs. If the Kennedys and Bushes are upper class today, then pretty much by definition the Romneys are.

Good quip. Bad reality. There was an Establishment in this country that Fussell wrote about. They peaked in the 1950s, though. The kind of people who get used to things 30 years late are obsolete. And never were particularly American, either, except maybe the Adams family.

Hey, that’s my wife’s people you are talking about. My MIL is a dead ringer for John Q.

And the quip is what’s truly important. Everything else is setup.

JFK’s grandfather was an Irish immigrant, not really from an aristocratic lineage. We’re not talking about the Cabots or the Lowells here.

I wasn’t aware of this usage difference, but it’s interesting that the reverse distinction applies in the case of AmE “math”, BrE “maths”.

Isn’t it a lifestyle thing? Beer, NASCAR, State U vs wine, opera, ivy league?