The "sports subjunctive": neither sports-related nor subjunctive
The so-called sports subjunctive (discussed some years ago on Language Log as the "baseball conditional) has been in the news, and was discussed in this post by Mark Liberman. Mark is absolutely right in his interpretation of the crucial example under discussion (Judge Martin did not claim to be a Muslim, he used a colloquial counterfactual conditional with the meaning "if I were a Muslim"); but rarely has a construction been so badly named. "Sports subjunctive" is not a good term; nor is Mark's suggested "sports conditional"; nor Barbara Partee's "baseball conditional". We should resist adopting any of them.
To begin with, the construction has no special connection with sports. Let me take an example that was actually quoted by Mark Liberman in a different context, when talking about... [via Language Log]