play the man and not the ball

From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Alternative forms[edit]


  • (file)


play the man and not the ball (third-person singular simple present plays the man and not the ball, present participle playing the man and not the ball, simple past and past participle played the man and not the ball)

  1. (sports) To attack an opponent instead of attacking the ball, which is usually being controlled by the attacked player at the time.
  2. (by extension, idiomatic, colloquial) To object to someone's argument by attacking them or a facet of their personality instead of the argument itself; to make an ad hominem attack.
    • 2010 April 1, “Abbott denies trying to soften his image”, in The Sydney Morning Herald, retrieved 27 August 2018:
      ""What we are seeing is an orchestrated campaign from the Labor Party to try to play the man and not the ball," he said... "[And] this is the kind of personal attack that we are going to see from the Labor Party right up until polling day.""
    • 2018 August 14, Katharine Murphy, Amy Remeikis, “Australian senator calls for 'final solution to immigration problem'”, in The Guardian, retrieved 27 August 2018:
      "“Claims that the words meant anything other than the “ultimate solution” to any political question is always a popular vote are simply ridiculous,” Anning said... “As I called for a plebiscite on the immigration mix, this baseless and ridiculous criticism is simply an effort to play the man and not the ball”."

See also[edit]