Games: The Long and Short of It

The New York Times NATIONAL Monday, March 20, 2012

For Cheney, Pros and Cons in New Heart, by Lawrence K. Altman and Denise Grady

Dick Cheney, former Vice-President under George W. Bush, just received a heart transplant.  “When prominent people receive transplants, questions inevitably arise about whether they somehow jumped to the top of the waiting list, but transplant surgeons insist that cheating is not possible.  Patients are registered in a national system that tracks donors and recipients by medical criteria and informs hospitals of possible matches.

You can’t jump the system, said Dr. O.H. Frazier of the Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke’s Episcopal hospital in Houston’ …Dr. Robert Michler, surgeon in chief and director of the Montefiore Einstein heart center in New York, agreed, ‘To my knowledge, he said, ‘it is not possible to game the system.”

I have put the sports idioms in italics.  However, jumping ahead of a system or a person is used so much and has become so distant from its metaphorical use that it has almost ceased to be metaphorical.  The same is true of gaming the system, to game the system, and similar uses of game, which can refer not only to sports, but also card games and gambling games.

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