College football season is upon us, and I’d be remiss not to highlight the recent flood of fantastic writing on my favorite televised sport. Most striking is Pulitzer Prize-winner Taylor Branch‘s Atlantic article “The Shame of College Sports.” It’s accompanied by several other takes on the issue. In regards to academia, this New York Times piece on the University of Chicago’s football team demonstrates that tension between educators and football fans is nothing new. (A sentiment the paper illustrated in a 2006 piece on Ivy League football.) However, as Gregg Easterbrook notes, major football programs can also demonstrate success in the classroom as well. Finally, and on a purely emotional level, I will always seize any opportunity to share this fantastic ESPN story by Eric Adelson.
Yet another open archive for your summer reading enjoyment: the Baffler (“the Journal that Blunts the Cutting Edge”), as part of a website redesign, has made available its entire back catalog of commentary and fiction. Might I suggest starting with this now-charmingly-antiquated piece on marketing to the youthful “hipster” generation? (The Paris Review has other suggestions. It’s hard to go wrong.)
Wole Soyinka does not approve of the push for Chinua Achebe to be awarded a posthumous Nobel Prize for Literature, and he doesn’t appreciate fan letters asking for his support to that end. “How did creative valuation descend to such banality?” Soyinka remarks in an interview with SaharaReporters. “Do these people know what they’re doing – they are inscribing Chinua’s epitaph in the negative mode of thwarted expectations. I find that disgusting.”