The art of a purposeful take

In the waning moments of the NCAA Tournament’s opening round Friday night, I watched on as UCLA’s TJ Leaf threw down a thundering slam in transition, punctuating a Round of 64 win against Kent State.

I turned to PJ and Nick, who were on the adjacent couch, and said, “It’s weird that his name is ‘TJ Leaf’ and not ‘TJ Branch’ or ‘Trunk'” PJ looked at me with pure disgust and said “What? Jack, if you’re gonna have a take, it doesn’t have to be hot or scalding, but it must be purposeful. Takes must always be purposeful.”

“Wow,” I thought to myself. I think about a lot of really dumb things. The TJ Leaf situation described above was one of those really dumb things. I had never considered the “purposefulness” of my takes. Frequently, I, like most take-givers, only rate our takes in terms of “hot” and “cold”. Hot takes are ridiculous, while cold takes are wildly accepted truths and norms. There’s nothing wrong with a cold take, but there’s certainly nothing special about it. There’s nothing wrong with a hot take, either, even if that take never ends up bearing fruits. It’s ok to be wrong, sometimes.

You know what there is something wrong with? Purposeless takes. Takes that don’t add anything to the conversation. Takes that don’t even land on the hot/cold scale because they’re helplessly irrelevant. My “TJ Leaf” thought process was, admittedly, a purposeless take. Just like everyone, I’m constantly honing my “take-dishing” skills.

Now, I’m here to define a purposeless take.

Purposeless Take, n, English.

  1. An opinion on something, anything, that is so irrelevant, it adds essentially nothing to the conversation; a sentence that doesn’t change the course of conversation, and had it not been uttered, the course of the evening would remain unchanged.
  2. An opinion that fails to force people to either agree or disagree.
  3. An opinion that fails to educate the group.


The first definition is rather straightforward. Think to yourself, “if I say this, will I really be adding anything to the conversation?” If the answer is “No, all my friends will probably hate me,” then you’re best off letting that thought saturate in your brain. If you have to even think about the answer to that question for longer than five seconds, then, again, you should not let it escape the boundaries of your cranium.

The second one is a more succinct, easier way of judging your take’s purposefulness. Is what you’re about to say going to stir up a debate? A staple of any sports-watching gather is bound to be rife with arguments and disagreements. It’s important that you have people in your group who can bring these talking points to the table. Purposeful takes foster this environment, while purposeless takes disappear into oblivion.

Lastly, your takes should always provide your group with a different way of looking at a particular topic. If your take gives nothing but a mundane perspective on a general topic, then it’s not worth saying. It has no purpose. Your takes should ALWAYS make people stop and think about what you’ve said. If you think your take might fail to do so, re-think making your take public.

You might think, “Jack, is this really a purposeful article?” To which I’d respond, “I’ve been firing takes all my life, and never ONCE considered their purposefulness until last night when PJ brought it to my attention.”

Strive to only spit purposeful takes with your pals. They can be hot, cold, scalding, or lukewarm. But make sure they’re always purposeful.

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