I graded 40 rough drafts in one day. Do you know how much grading that is? It takes me roughly 15 – 20 minutes to grade a rough draft, so my day clocked in at around 12 hours of grading. Just grading. That doesn’t count the planning and class prep I threw in for good measure. Fellow English teachers/professors out there, I’m sure you feel my pain. Remember the ‘This is your brain on drugs’ commercials from the 80’s?
(So are they saying that if I do drugs, my brain will become delicious? That’s my question.)
By the end of the day, my brain felt, not like the fried egg in the commercial, but like an egg that had been whipped into oblivion by a carving fork and then cooked for a few hours into a shriveled, rubbery, burnt oblivion.
If I have to read one more narrative about sports, I’m going to decapitate myself and dribble my own head down a basketball court. Confession: I hate sports. It’s not that I don’t understand the merit of sports. It’s not that I don’t understand how people could like sports. I just can’t like sports. I’ve tried. I was born into a family of sports junkies. I married into a family of sports addicts. Trust me, for the sake of my own sanity, I have tried. I. Just. Can’t. It’s like trying to force myself to enjoy mayonnaise or ranch dressing. I understand that people like these condiments (“It’s cool!” “It’s creamy!” “It makes my sandwich moist and delicious!” they cry), but in my opinion, mayonnaise is the repulsive, hellfire mucus of Satan himself
and ranch dressing is the pus secreting from his festering wounds .
I watched this SNL skit about a ranch-dressing focus group once. Once. As amusing as I find Melissa McCarthy, I would rather change 300 blown-out baby diapers than ever watch it again. It just confirmed my suspicions. Ranch dressing is vile.
It’s as if someone dug through medical waste to find garbage bags filled with the fat sucked out during a liposuction procedure and stuck it in a jar. Spread THAT on your sandwich.
For me, sports are the entertainment version of this – creamy, liposuction, fatty condiment on a screen that makes my stomach want to crawl out of my throat and run away. There’s nothing that makes me cringe more than accidentally eating a bite of mayonnaise or ranch dressing except for sports sounds in the background of my life.
Ugh. What kind of monster made this video? I could only get through 20 seconds of it.
So, when 75% of the narrative drafts I had to grade were about sports trials and tribulations, I thought I actually might start having a House level seizure (that turns out NOT to be lupus). It was like reading really poorly-written Rudy fan-fiction. Do you remember Rudy?
Remember baby Sean Astin overcoming the odds to become a football hero? At the end of the movie, everyone chants, “Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!” and he’s hoisted onto the shoulders of his teammates, victorious.
I remember Rudy quite vividly because, for some reason, every health class I took from jr. high to high school was taught by some sportsball coach who hung up posters bearing “inspirational” slogans like, “Pain is weakness leaving your body!” and forced us to watch Rudy and Hoosiers on a constant loop.
Anyway, most of my students’ essays were along the same lines – “How I overcame the odds to move from JV to Varsity” “How I won the big game” “How I made the team” “How I ate a bucket of mayonnaise.”
You might be thinking, “If you don’t want to read papers about sports, why not just tell them they can’t write about sports or create assignments that choose a topic for them, like a literacy narrative”? I have done this in the past, but what I find is that most of my students are much more willing to write (and are much better at writing) the first essay if I allow them to choose a topic they like. My hope is that they will somewhat enjoy writing the first paper so that I can begin, ever so slowly, to chip away at their prejudices toward writing (which are sundry). “See? That wasn’t so bad! Now let’s do a rhetorical analysis of this speech by Alexander the Great!” It’s sort of like the college-writing version of this:
So for one paper only, I force myself to metaphorically eat an entire bottle of ranch dressing, cringing and heaving all the way.
Here’s a quote from one student’s essay: “To quote the great Andy Dick, I was in beast mode.”
First of all,
You know, C-List “comedian” whose ability to annoy is second only to a first-place tie between Carrot Top and Gilbert Gottfried. He’s best known for mastering the art of sexual harrassment and public urination. So either my student has a completely mangled definition of “great” or he was thinking of somebody else. I really hope he was thinking of somebody else. Also, I’m pretty sure Andy Dick never talked about going into ‘beast mode.’ Please correct me if I’m wrong so that I can adequately judge my student for his choice in role models.
Marshawn Lynch definitely goes into that beast mode.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons I don’t like sports. Every multi-million dollar sportsball hero I’ve ever seen interviewed sounds like Mr. Lynch and, when asked, “How’d you manage to pull out a win tonight?” says things like “Well, you know, the other team gave it 100%, so I just went out there and gave it my 110%” a phrase that tops my list of pet peeves as a complete impossibility.
Another student wrote, “I dreamed of becoming a professional athlete ass well” which created some very interesting images in my head as I tried to figure out what a ‘professional athlete ass well’ could be. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT do a Google search for ‘ass well.’
One wrote about how the big game was very “nerve raking” which I actually like better than “nerve-racking” I think. Just imagine a rake scraping across exposed nerve-endings. That seems much more unpleasant
I think I’ll start using that phrase. For example – “Reading essays about sports is nerve-raking.”