2023 - Fall

Sports & Soul

Course Number: JOUR-GA 1182.017

Day & Time: Fri | 12:20 PM – 4:00 PM

Location: 20 Cooper Square, Room 657

Instructor: James McBride

The class focuses on writing about the deeper meaning of personal identity. It is not about sports per se, so sports writing experience or knowledge is not a prerequisite. The deeper element we seek is the one that churns beneath the skin and has little to do with box scores or touchdowns. What causes someone to shoot better, run faster, jump higher, dance stronger, sing louder, rap more, or coax themselves to outdo a competitor? Skill and talent play only a small part. One secret ingredient: Identity. Who am I? Where do I belong? What drives me? What do I represent, culturally, socially, and professionally? The first half of the semester focuses on first-person writing, using the student experience as test mettle to practice the deep reporting necessary for sound story structure. The second half focuses on an outside person in a competitive field, sport, entertainment, design, or otherwise – who has excelled. Focus is on targeting the reportorial material and using it to present this character in long narrative showing the deeper element of identity as the engine of success and/or failure.
We write longhand. No computers. No cell phones or taping lectures. All homework assignments are HANDWRITTEN on yellow letter-sized paper, 8 x 10, double-spaced, then typed into computer. Both handwritten and computer versions are due in Margaret’s email box every Tuesday at 8 p.m. There will be some reading aloud in class. There will be no bloodlettings. If you’re willing to fail, you will be successful. If you’re already a success, this isn’t the class for you. Expect weekly reading assignments from Smith’s “Going Deep” and Nietzche’s “Reader.”