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There is something deeply paradoxical about the professional status of sports journalism, especially in the medium of print. In discharging their usual responsibilities of description and commentary, reporters’ accounts of sports events are eagerly consulted by sports fans, while in their broader journalistic role of covering sport in its many forms, sports journalists are among the most visible of all contemporary writers. The ruminations of the elite class of ‘celebrity’ sports journalists are much sought after by the major newspapers, their lucrative contracts being the envy of colleagues in other ‘disciplines’ of journalism. Yet sports journalists do not have a standing in their profession that corresponds to the size of their readerships or of their pay packets, with the old saying (now reaching the status of cliché) that sport is the ‘toy department of the news media’ still readily to hand as a dismissal of the worth of what sports journalists do. This reluctance to take sports journalism seriously produces the paradoxical outcome that sports newspaper writers are much read but little admired.

Source: EBOOK: Sport, Culture & Media By David Rowe


What's the grammatical construction of the bold part? How is the bold part parsed?

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  • "With" is a preposition, so it can only be a PP with "with" as head and the rest as its object complement.
    – BillJ
    May 11, 2023 at 12:55
  • @BillJ is that parsed in the following way: with / the old saying that sport is the ‘toy department of the news media’ / still readily to hand as a dismissal of the worth of what sports journalists do./? May 11, 2023 at 13:16
  • It's with the old saying ... to hand just like with a pen on the table.
    – Colin Fine
    May 11, 2023 at 15:59
  • as a dismissal... is a further adjunct on to hand.
    – Colin Fine
    May 11, 2023 at 16:01

1 Answer 1

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The phrase in the context of the whole sentence is adverbial, and gives the context that sports journalists work in.

To show how it works, let's strip the phrase down to its simplest form:

with the old saying still to hand

Here, "saying" is a noun meaning idiomatic expression, and "to hand" is acting as an adjective that means "convenient" or "easily available", so it roughly means, "with that old expression still easily available".

The other parts modify various parts of that bare phrase, or add some commentary on it.

"...that sport is the ‘toy department of the news media’..." modifies "saying" by giving the details.

"as a dismissal of the worth of what sports journalists do" modifies "to hand" and explains what the saying is available for, or how it's used.

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