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“Why must my sports [news] be saturated with … criminal news?

Tis the song, the sigh of the weary, as Stephen Foster put it. The guy in this post’s title wants to know why he can’t just love his Vikings and not have to think about being one of millions of Minnesota taxpayers who’ve given hundreds of millions of dollars to the team’s racketeering owner, Zygi Wilf.

Zygi is one of Yeshiva University’s most honored trustees. He is part of the Yeshiva University tradition of having its trustees called “evil” by judges. First Bernard Madoff and now Zygi have inspired some of America’s finest jurists to rise to this rhetorical occasion…

(Update: Yeshiva’s main campus is named after the Wilf family. Yikes.)

But back to our headline. Like it or not, your sports news – university sports, professional sports – will always be saturated with – imbricated with (to use an English major word) – criminal news. This being the case, UD proposes that MFA programs at sports factories offer not just instruction in Minimalism, but also instruction in Criminalism, a prose style in which you entertainingly interweave afternoons at the arena with evenings in jail.

There is a good deal to study here. UD has been a student of criminalist prose for years and has accumulated a syllabus-full of methods, approaches, points of view. She’s particularly intrigued by the style she calls Coacha Inconsolata, a mournful account of the sufferings of coaches who through no fault of their own recruited drunks and flunkies to the team and of course to the school. Here’s a very recent example. The trick is to focus not on the totally foreseeable stupidity and criminality of the recruit, but rather on the shocked and hurt coach.

Here are some excerpts, with commentary from Scathing Online Schoolmarm.

U Conn [basketball] center Tyler Olander has put Kevin Ollie in a difficult position … [This is the beginning of the first sentence of the article. Start right off not with the player, but with the coach. It’s unseemly to dwell on jailed players — too many of them, doesn’t look good, challenges alumni to keep loving the team — so dwell rather on the sacrificial agonies of the coaches.] Legendary coach Jim Calhoun had already left Ollie with a underwhelming and thinning front line. Now, calling that front line “thinning” is like a bald man using the comb over. It’s approaching nonexistent. [Next move: Recall the impossibly big shoes into which the coach must step. Legendary Jim! You only have to watch this famous clip to understand how beloved, how amazing, Calhoun was… Poor Ollie! Left only with thinning hair.] Olander was UConn’s only big man left on the roster with any sort of real experience. The Huskies had already lost veteran Enosch Wolf, who had his scholarship taken away for his own legal issues… [If you’re not blubbering by this point, you’ve got a heart of stone. What is this good and great man, this Job of the jocks, supposed to do?]

Just continue like that if you want to write Coacha Inconsolata criminalism: The writer here goes on to talk about the coach’s “major headache,” the way he’s “scrambling” to do a good job, and how “This is not what he had to have in mind when he laid out his plan” for greatness. Do not touch on the question of how it is that anyone entering a major university sports coaching position lays out non-criminogenic plans for greatness. Do not ask how anyone could possibly be that stupid. Just go with the Job thing.

Margaret Soltan, September 10, 2013 10:36AM
Posted in: Scathing Online Schoolmarm, sport, trustees trashing the place

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2 Responses to ““Why must my sports [news] be saturated with … criminal news?”

  1. Stephen Karlson Says:

    Next up: Oklahoma State’s troubles? http://www.wusa9.com/sports/college/football/article/274277/305/SI-story-details-potential-Oklahoma-State-scandal

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Stephen: Sigh. Yes, I’ve seen that breaking story. Hard to keep up, but I’ll do something with it…

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