Do I have any other regrets for words not written? Well, maybe it would have been fun to have slipped one or two in when I was a young Times reporter on the high-school sports beat. I wrote about the public schools in New York City, of course, but also wrote about the Catholic Schools, though was sternly warned before my first column: In The New York Times, St. John’s never “whips” St. Cecilia’s. And woe to the writer who dares to say that St. Cecilia’s “downs” St. John’s.
I thought about that simpler time recently when I read a longform piece in the paper about a transgender martial-arts fighter. Wonder whether you could say she “topped” her opponent? Or even, in the confusion of a martial-arts brawl, had her down for the count?