If you watch sports on ESPN, and I assume you do if you are reading this, then you can't help but notice the constant misuse of the term "kick off" when announcing the beginning of a contest, series or season in just about any sport. If used properly, "kick off" should be limited to descriptions of the various forms of football played around the globe: American, Australian, Soccer, Rugby, etc. Right now, the ESPN networks are running on their tickers, "Angels, Yanks kick off ALCS in soggy New York tonight." Since when did baseball games begin with a kick? ESPN used similar phrasing during the U.S. Open tennis tournament this summer, and during the days leading up to the first race in NASCAR's Chase for the Championship four weeks ago. If they don't switch from "kick off" to "tip off" for basketball season in ten days, then those concerned in Bristol need a refresher course.
If you take out your Thesaurus--yes, your printed copy, not some advertisement-laden online version--you'll notice that the first meaning of "kick off" is "die," as in death. This alone should force ESPN editors to restrain their use of kick off. The second meaning of the term is "start." Thus, the alternatives: Start, begin, commence, launch, lead off and open. As in, "Angels, Yanks commence ALCS in soggy New York tonight." Doesn't that look and sound better?
Ugly headline on CBSSports.com right now, using "kick off" to refer to college basketball. and as one word no less! Defending champs North Carolina kickoff season