19 February, 2009

What actually is a "rain check"?

You see, I knew how to use it in conversation, but it dawned on me (after reading Bill Bryson's excellent "Mother Tongue") that I fell into the category of people perfectly content to take the matter no further (i.e. happily not bother to seek an explaination for this odd term) and that has had to change...I don't like being part of a category, especially a common and lazy one... ;)

So, let's explain (embarrassingly it took no time at all to find out, and was completely logical), so in case you are in the same situation that I was in - it's an Americanism (as you had no doubt already guessed), the saying "I'll take a rain check" originated either in the sport of Baseball or Golf (depending on who you want to believe).  When a game was cancelled thanks to bad weather, the disgruntled baseball fan or damp golfer would then stomp back to the corresponding office and collect (literally take) their "rain check" - a free entry ticket to enable them to return when the weather had improved and the game was to be resumed...

So there you go...I have to say I was really quite surprised, the Americans are actually far more civilised in this respect than even the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Association (who one would have expected to be absolute bastions of fair play) - for them, however, if rain stops play all day, tough luck you only actually paid for the right to sit in the seat, not to see any games being played...!

Most other sports popular in the UK obviously play on regardless of the amount of rain (football, rugby etc.) as I miserably discovered in school...only, it seems - cricket - saves us from complete humiliation, offering a full refund or a transfer of dates if it really is too wet to play (and, interestingly, they even refer to it as a "raincheck policy")...

Now why didn't I know all this before, lack of interest in sport?  Perhaps...but thank you, Mr Bryson, for the kick up the arse...while I didn't actually use the term myself prior to this, I can now, at least, do so with confidence (if I so desire) in the future... ;)

3 comments:

Druvan said...

Hi, I just wanted to rectify something: Wimbledon actually does have something they call the "Wet Weather" policy (see here).

If there is less than an hour of play, you will be fully refunded (happened to us two years ago, the checks arrived in the mail a couple of weeks later). Between one and two hours of play entitles you to 50% refund.

¨°º©[ Fink ]©º°¨ said...

Ah, thank you! So the lesson here is, I guess, be careful who you buy your Wimbledon tickets through! ;)

Ys said...

Ahh Bill Bryson's great.

I didn't know about the rain check term either. Thanks for not making me have to do the work ;)