With the NFL and college football an American passion, and pro and college basketball seasons underway, millions of Americans spend time watching games or following up on the internet. Fans have heard dozens of sports slogans flow from coaches, athletes, commentators, team owners and fans.

Some call them clichés, but the message can often extend beyond the arenas, into our professional lives. A sideline interview with a hoarse football coach sometimes provides little to no value to the coverage of the game, but occasionally there are morsels of wisdom to glean from those words.

Here's a look at how some of those sports sayings you've come to breeze past can apply to the "real world" — both for fans and nonfans.

Respect your opponent

Competition in the workplace, whether involving other companies or co-workers, is inevitable. That doesn't mean it has to get ugly.

Take the high road. If you're bad-mouthing a competitor, you're minimizing an advantage. That takes away from the opportunity to promote your own positive attributes. The adversary got in a position to compete with you because of good qualities at some point, just as you earned your place. That is something to acknowledge.

If your competitor has flaws, they'll be exposed over time. In fact, keeping quiet can work in your favor, allowing you to see something that the competitor might not realize.

Play to the whistle

Competitors sometimes learn the hard way about giving up on a play only to see the opponent take advantage.

Don't be caught flat-footed. If it initially appears that a plan or project won't work, don't surrender too easily. You might be off to a good start, only to abandon your work and see someone pick it up and take it the rest of the way.

Success comes from completion, not from the attempt or from good intentions. Make sure you've got a better option before you give up on a promising venture.

Know when to take the extra base

On the base paths in baseball, experienced runners have already scouted the pitcher and the rest of the opposition. That awareness not only will help lead to extra bases, but it also puts pressure on the opponent.

Delve into the landscape when you're assigned a project, seeking out as much information as you can, without needing to be coached. That way, when you push ahead, the only person not caught off guard will be you.

Prepare for rainouts

Not everything will go the way you planned. Backup arrangements, alternate plans, options whatever you want to call them are necessary if you want to stay on track. Otherwise, going back to square one will set you back and leave you scrambling.

Yelling at the ump won't change the call

Occasionally, officials blow the call, and life isn't always fair. Frustration only distracts you from achieving your objectives. And losing your cool not only impairs your approach, but casts you in a bad light. In this case, acting "professional" really applies.

Act like you've been there before

Some players score touchdowns and casually hand the ball to the official, preferring to return to the bench instead of celebrating with an orchestrated routine.

When you experience success, especially in a big way, treat the result as though it's part of your job. Co-workers and higher-ups appreciate a gracious winner and will be rooting for you in the future.

You'll be noticed the same as you would be if you made a big deal out of it but in a positive light.