Ha ha, I had a sudden insight while replying to another thread in MPSIMS about what it might mean for an athlete to say they gave 110%. It’s not another case of a “dumb jock spouting mathematical nonsense”, it’s actually a very subtle way of complaining about their contract (or negotiatingfor the next one)!
Consider that typical fixed-duration bonds are “priced as percent”, and can fluctuate above or below par after issuance based on changes in market demand after the bonds were issued. Similarly, players typically play under fixed duration contract agreements extending at least one season and sometimes much longer, as opposed to game-to-game.
So by that analogy, one could interpret “giving 110%” as “playing 10% harder than my contract pays me to play, being as I am being paid exactly the league average salary and I got back 10% more ROI than the average player at my position would produce in the same game situation”.
If you take this as the basis for rendering “playing at 110%” a sensical statement, what players in pro sports would you say gave significantly more than 100% last year?