"...for really good writers, sports offers an opportunity to express all the pleasure and passion of life." – Nicholas Davidoff
"Revision makes writing better. Always." – William Germano
Please note: OCW users are not able to turn in assignments to the instructor or receive a grade for their work.
Why we write
The possibilities of "sports" as a topic for essays
Lopate, Phillip. "Why I Remain a Baseball Fan." In Portrait inside My Head. Free Press, 2013. ISBN: 9781451695861. [Preview with Google Books]
Updike, John. "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu." In Assorted Prose. Alfred A. Knopf, 1965. ISBN: 9780394414737.
|Session 1 Assignment (PDF)|
Sports and personal and cultural meanings
Voice, sensibility, audience
|Wallace, David Foster. "Federer as Religious Experience," The New York Times, August 20, 2006.||Session 2 Assignment (PDF)|
Sports and cultural meanings: Description and scenes
Agassi, Andre. Chapter 9 in Open. Vintage, 2010. ISBN: 9780307388407. [Preview with Google Books]
Gladwell, Malcolm. "Slackers," The New Yorker, July 30, 2012, 26–9.
Macone, Steve. "What I Learned From Getting Knocked Around," The New York Times, March 10, 2012.
"The Cage." (PDF) Example student work. (Courtesy of Jesse Orlowski. Used with permission.)
"Reunion." (PDF) Example student work. (Courtesy of an MIT Student. Used with permission.)
|Session 3 Assignment (PDF)|
The toll excellence takes on players
Shaping an essay
Prepare for Workshopping; Sign up for group conferences
|Format for Essays (PDF)||Session 4 Assignment (PDF) (contains description of Essay 1)|
|5||Workshop Essay 1|| |
Fallows, James. "Throwing Like a Girl." The Atlantic Monthly, August 1996, 84–7.
Mooney, Sally Cole. "'Man-On': The Culture of Girls' Soccer." In Sport, Rhetoric, and Gender: Historical Perspectives and Media Representations. Edited by Linda K. Fuller. Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. ISBN: 9780230619708.
|Session 5 Assignment (PDF)|
Feedback on Essay 1
Sports & culture: "Throwing Like a Girl"
Introduce Essay 2 assignment
Early, Gerald. "Where Have We Gone, Mr. Robinson?" In A Level Playing Field: African American Athletes and the Republic of Sports. Harvard University Press, 2011. ISBN: 9780674050983. [Preview with Google Books]
Levy, Ariel. "A Ring of One's Own," The New Yorker, May 7, 2012, 36–47.
Sports and culture: issues of race and gender
Prep for film Selected list of classic sports movies (PDF)
|Session 7 Assignment (PDF)|
|8||Film: Friday Night Lights (TV pilot)|| |
Aaron, Hank. "When Basesball Mattered," The New York Times, April 13, 1997.
Hawkins, Billy, Mitch Abrams, et al. "Should Character Matter in Pro Sports?" The New York Times, July 1, 2013.
The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Argument."
|Session 8 Assignment (PDF)|
Sports and character
Joining the conversation
Developing an argument
Wolff, Alexander, and David Epstein. "A Massive Fraud Now More Fully Exposed." Sports, Illustrated. October 22, 2012.
Lapham, Lewis H. "Mudville." Harper's, March 2008, 11–4.
|Session 9 Assignment (PDF)|
Sports and drugs
Joining the Conversation / Developing an argument
Pappano, Laura. "How Big-Time Sports Ate College Life," The New York Times, January 20, 2012.
Ripley, Amanda. "The Case Against High-School Sports." The Atlantic, October 2013, 72–8.
|Session 10 Assignment (PDF)|
"Big-time" college sports
Argument & evidence
|Gladwell, Malcolm. "Offensive Play," The New Yorker, October 19, 2009.||Session 11 Assignment (PDF)|
Sports and strategies
Representing ideas accurately
Rhetoric: handling complexity
"The Human Element." (PDF) Example student work. (Courtesy of Patrick Everett. Used with permission.)
"Johnny Manziel As A Performance Artist." (PDF) Example student work. (Courtesy of an MIT Student. Used with permission.)
Session 12 Assignment (PDF) (contains description of Essay 2)
|13||Workshop Essay 2: small groups|| |
"Playing to His Potential." (PDF) Example student work. (Courtesy of Dirk Beck. Used with permission.)
"The System: Football for Sale." (PDF) Example student work. (Courtesy of an MIT Student. Used with permission.)
|Session 13 Assignment (PDF)|
Feedback on Essay 2
Moving from topic to inquiry question
Academic integrity 1: Approaches to research and taking notes
|Session 14 Assignment (PDF)|
|15||Library session||Session 15 Assignment (PDF)|
Academic integrity 2: Why we cite
Quoting, Paraphrasing, Summarizing, Citing
Prepping for presentations
|Session 16 Assignment (PDF)|
Group 1 Oral presentations
Rubric for Evaluating Oral Presentations (PDF)
Discuss revised proposals
|Session 17 Assignment (PDF)|
|18||Small group work with Essay 3 pre-writing & outlines||Session 18 Assignment (PDF) (contains description of Essay 3)|
|19||Workshop Essay 3: Specific issues||Session 19 Assignment (PDF)|
|20||Workshop Essay 3: Small groups||Breathe! (no assignment)|
|21||Essay 3 feedback & targeted issues||Session 21 Assignment (PDF)|
|22||Essay 3, more work on specific issues||Session 22 Assignment (PDF)|
|23||Group 2 Oral Presentations||Session 23 Assignment (PDF)|
Oral Presentations 3
Return revised Essay 3
|Work on Re-revision and Cover Letter for Portfolios. Use the Re-Revision Cover Worksheet (PDF). |
Bring 1–2 drafts to class for polishing.
|25||Polishing prose||Session 25 Assignment (PDF)|
|26||Final class: Share Best writing Evaluations|
These articles and essays are all excellent examples of writing about sports. While they do not necessarily directly pertain to a particular class session, there is much to learn from their approach, structure, voice, and the skills and efforts of their authors.
Simmons, Bill. "The Kobe Question." Grantland. December 7, 2012.
Carter, C. D. "When Fantasy Football Becomes an Addiction," The New York Times, November 27, 2012.
Gutting, Gary. "The Myth of the 'Student-Athlete," The New York Times, March 15, 2012.
Miller, James Andrew, et al. "College Football's Most Dominant Player? It's ESPN," The New York Times, August 24, 2013.
Gorney, Cynthia. "Ripped. (Or Torn Up?)" The New York Times, June 17, 2009.
Oates, Joyce Carol. "Mike Tyson." Life, March, 1987.
Lewis, Michael. "The No-Stats All-Star," The New York Times, February 13, 2009.
Hohler, Bob. "Failing Our Athletes." The Boston Globe. June 21–27, 2009.