Whenever I hear the word passion in a sporting context I release the safety catch on my revolver.
Obviously I don't have an actual revolver. I' m talking here of a notional revolver.
And the notional safety catch gets taken off, because, like "culture", passion spells trouble.
"Passion", for example, was the excuse forwarded by John Terry for Didier Drogba’s crazed rant at the referee following last season's infamous Champions League exit by Chelsea at the hands of Barcelona. OK, the word itself wasn't used by the Chelsea captain, but that was his general point, and a journalist filled in the blank. We are often helpful in that way.
Subsequently, if reports are to be believed, Drogba was moved to apologise for his "passion" because it had embarrassed his son.
"Passion" is the managerial excuse for a brutal tackle. "Passion" is the slithery justification for the spectator who think that paying to attend an event justifies their pouring verbal poison onto it from the first minute to the last.
In the sporting context, "passion" is all too often an excuse for excess, whether from those who perform or those who watch. The French justice system did away with the defence of "crime passionel" 30 years ago. Not so sport.
But then, sport attracts hyperbole.
Sport is Hyperbole HQ. Sport has Hyperbole in the House – Big Style. Sport comes Home to Hyperbole.
On rare occasions, the hyperbole can correspond to something like the reality. Rio's recent victory in the contest to host the 2016 Olympics, for instance, was established with the slogan: Live Your Passion.
Oh dear. And yet the proponents of this bid addressed IOC members with such palpable passion that their slogan seemed justified. Well, almost.
No sport seems immune to over-egging itself.
You'd think that badminton would be one of the sensible ones, wouldn’t you?
Badminton - as played in village halls throughout England by the sprightly middle-aged. Prime advantage thereof – unlike a tennis ball, when you whack a shuttlecock out of court you don’t have to go miles to retrieve it.
I could think of a couple of slogans that would suit.
"Badminton – really good fun."
"Badminton – not bad at all."
Again, does the job.
But who am I kidding? We all know that, like so many games that were once the domain of those proving they were Still Good At Their Age, badminton is now the domain of dynamic youth.
An Olympic sport indeed, which is more than long-suffering squash can say.
And as far as Britain is concerned, a sport in which its top performers have achieved at the highest level, with Simon Archer and Joanne Goode taking bronze at the Sydney Games and with Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms getting one step further up the podium in Athens four years later before winning All-England and world titles in the space of the next two seasons.
More recently, the mixed doubles pair of Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg (pictured), beaten by their friends and training companions in the 2006 world final, have stepped up to take the European title.
Since 2000, Badminton England - with the assistance of Lottery funding - has nurtured its players at their Milton Keynes HQ by surrounding them with some of the world’s leading coaches from Korea, China and Indonesia.
Three years ago, the national body felt emboldened to publish a mission statement entitled "The 100-Point Plan – a decade of delivery."
The intention was not, as it might first appear, a takeover of the troubled Royal Mail. It was for England to become, by 2016, "the No.1 playing nation in the world."
With Emms, and this week Kellogg, retiring, that lofty ambition seems some way from being realised. In the current world rankings, the flag of St George appears only once in the top 10 of any category, with Robertson and Clark ranking 10th in the men's doubles.
That said, the presence of young talents such as Chris Adcock, Robert Blair, Gabrielle White, former European junior champion Rajiv Ouseph and Jenny Wallwork, the 22-year-old who has replaced Emms as Robertson’s mixed doubles partner, offers genuine hope of resurgence in time for London 2012.
Replacing China or Indonesia as the world’s top dogs still looks like a bit of a stretch, but then – what's the point of having an unambitious ambition?
I fear, however, that the passion thing has left its dread mark on this sport. Evidence for the prosecution – the Badminton England slogan: "Play it, love it, live it."
Play it. Of course.
Love it. Why not?
But live it? How do you live a sport?
I think Kellogg's well-considered course of action after a decade of international success sounds more sensible.
As she steps away to concentrate more of her sporting energy on following her local football club, Derby County, the bemedalled 31-year-old’s personal slogan would be: "Play It. Love It. Live By It. Leave It."
Now that's sensible.
Mike Rowbottom, one of Britain's most talented sportswriters, has covered the last five Summer and four Winter Olympics for The Independent. Previously he has worked for the Daily Mail, The Times, The Observer, the Sunday Correspondent and The Guardian. He is now chief feature writer for insidethegames.