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Tedeschi’s Take: For the love of sports

Why do I love sports?

I’ve been thinking about that question this week and realized it’s difficult to answer.

Sports have always been a part of my life. I can’t imagine my life without them. But why? What is it about sports that has drawn me to them since I was a little kid?

It certainly isn’t because I like winning.

I have been a diehard Cleveland sports fan my entire life, so I’m not too familiar with the whole winning concept. (Although I’m hopeful that will change with LeBron coming home!) Interestingly, through the perpetual losing seasons and disappointment, my love for sports has actually grown. `

My love for sports can be summed up by “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” to borrow the famous “Wide World of Sports” tagline. I love the drama and passion of sports. You see it in the hard work of athletes at practices and games, the intensity of a coach’s pregame speech and in the painted faces of football fans on Sunday afternoons. Sports give people something to be passionate about, a place to express their emotions.

I also love how sports bring people together. Absolute strangers become best friends celebrating a team’s victory. Entire nations come together to rally around national teams during events like the Olympics and World Cup. Sports forge a bond between people that few other things can.

So why should you care about all this? Because I want to share my love of sports with you this year.

Through this column and other stories, I hope to tell of the drama and passion of IWU sports, as well as how sports are bringing people together on this campus and elsewhere.

I am looking forward to working as the sports editor for The Sojourn this year, and hope to interact with you any way I can.

Feel free to contact me through email or Twitter (@tim_tedeschi), and be sure to check back every two weeks for another edition of Tedeschi’s Take.

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Let me introduce you to… myself

Well, here we are again. New year, new classes, new friends, new challenges.

I myself have been faced with quite a few new things: new living arrangements, new job, new responsibilities.

It’s all quite terrifying, but also incredibly exciting.

My name is Erin Alberding, and I have the privilege of being The Sojourn’s sports editor.

I have heavily followed sports my entire life. I have favorite teams that I will cheer for almost religiously (Chicago Bears, Butler Bulldogs), and there are teams I pretend don’t exist (New England Patriots, Duke Blue Devils).

Whether we agree on teams or not, one commonality obviously joins us, our love of sports.

So my fellow Indiana Wesleyan University students, make sure this isn’t just another column that you read and forget (or even worse, skip over completely). Let’s work together.

I want to write on interesting subjects that are relevant to you. So talk to me, email me, Facebook me, find me in Elder Hall or in the Barnes Student Center. I am always up for a rousing sports conversation or to listen to your ideas for articles.

Let’s be a team, IWU.

Was that too cheesy for a first column? I feel like it might be.

In all seriousness however, I don’t want this to be a section that gets skimmed over or ignored. The coaches and student athletes here work too hard to be disregarded.

So now I challenge you. Go to at least one sporting event this year (home games are free for IWU students, so don’t play the “I have no money” card). I know I’m going to plenty. Stop by and hang out, cheer on your classmates, the coaches, Wesley the Wildcat, everyone.

We are IWU and we need to be proud of it.

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The first New Year’s resolution I made was in junior high, and it was all about a boy.
I was 12, and that year I resolved to get him to ask me out.

He didn’t. (Oddly enough, my resolution wasn’t exactly binding on other people.)

In high school, I resolved to master new skills like teaching myself an instrument or running half a dozen miles each day. I always made a valiant effort at the beginning.

By the end of the week, however, my resolution was broken. Three months into this year, I’m enjoying the fact that, so far, I haven’t failed.

But it isn’t because I’ve suddenly developed great willpower or a stringent routine. It isn’t even because I felt guilty for all of my past failures and have decided to change my ways. Instead, I haven’t failed because there’s nothing to fail at, since I stopped making New Year’s resolutions three years ago.

It’s wonderful, really. The sense of guilt I get from my inevitable failure is gone. But while I love not having to feel the pressure to fulfill a year-long promise, could I be missing out on the lessons I might have learned in the process?

Each year around this time, I’m surrounded by people who have decided to make “resolutions” concerning the season of Lent. The commitment is not as intimidating as an entire year long resolution, but the mindset is the same. Or so I’ve always thought.

Lent wasn’t something that I really paid attention to until I became a student here. I remember being extremely confused and slightly panicked at the Ash Wednesday chapel my freshman year. (Do I really have to keep the smudges on my forehead all day?) Four years ago I made a mental note to do more research on Lent so I understood it. It seemed like something “religious” people did and therefore, something I should do too. Right?

The thing is that I never did that research. I never understood Lent, and consequently I didn’t practice any type of fasting. Like a New Year’s resolution, I understood Lent as just another promise to better my life, something that until this year was concentrated on guilt, not deeper meaning.

My recent understanding happened by accident, actually; I didn’t plan on participating in Lent, but one of my friends shared a link on Facebook for Relevant magazine’s recent article, “Why practicing Lent is crazy.”

Ever the procrastinator (and over-user of Facebook, I naturally clicked.

The article didn’t revolutionize what I thought about Lent, but it did remind me of my former curiosity. That, and it emphasized a new element of the “fasting” process I hadn’t thought of before: sacrifice.

It makes sense, really, for sacrifice to be the true focus of Lent. The timing itself, for starters, lends itself to this as a natural focus. Lent leads up to Easter, the time when Jesus made the greatest sacrifice and gave us salvation.

The article, by Christine Jeske, discusses the fact that at face value, the sacrifice of participating in Lent may seem … pointless. To the rest of the world, giving up Facebook, sugar or some other “vice” won’t really have a long-term impact. According to Jeske, however, the act of sacrifice (no matter how menial) is much deeper.

“Sacrifice is hitting a point where you see your own limits, and give beyond that. It’s saying to God, “Fine, let my life make no sense at all, let it be a failure, let it be wasted, but above all, let it be yours.” It’s throwing yourself out across a canyon you could never leap across, trusting somehow there will be a parachute, or a net, or a bridge, or somehow it will be OK – even somehow better – because of your leap. It’s knowing this: God is in charge. Period.”

In light of this statement, my choice to “sacrifice” for Lent this year isn’t really a sacrifice. In fact, were I to mention it on Twitter, I’d probably receive responses with the hashtag #firstworldproblems.

I don’t know how the rest of my time fasting will go. Considering my history with commitments like this, there’s a good chance I’ll fail. And the thing is, that’s OK. In some ways, it’s not the flawless keeping of the promise that matters; it’s the attitude behind it. The commitment of Lent isn’t just to re-shape everyday habits or re-evaluate life’s blessings and gifts. It’s about growing to understand sacrifice – granted, in a very limited, human fashion, but understand all the same.

Chances are that I won’t truly ever understand sacrifice, especially the sacrifice that Lent commemorates. But I’ll get a little closer.

I think that’s worth the 40 days.

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The handbook: bigotry

This week marks the fifth and final installment of my column discussing lesser-known corners of the 2011/2012 Student Handbook. Beginning next week, The Sojourn will publish a five-week guest column from Andrew Parker, dean for student conduct and community standards at Indiana Wesleyan University, responding to each of my five topics sequentially.

To punctuate my commentary on the handbook, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss IWU’s umbrella nondiscrimination clauses.

“Because of our scriptural belief in the worth and dignity of persons,” states Page 19, “each member of the community is expected to be sensitive to special needs existing in our society and on our campus. Therefore, discrimination against others on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, socioeconomic status, or handicap is a violation of our Biblical principles.”

The “access, equity, diversity statement” found on Page 20 specifies certain discriminatory acts as inappropriate for IWU community members:

“Acts of racism, hazing, sexism, bigotry, harassment, and violence are not acceptable behaviors from either employees or students of Indiana Wesleyan University. Persons found involved in such behaviors may be dismissed from the institution.”

Racism and sexism tie in directly with the “Do Not Discriminate” clause from Page 19, but “hazing” apparently required some further explanation in the eyes of IWU’s administration – and appropriately so. Page 23 cites Indiana law to define “hazing” and demonstrate its illegality:

“For the purposes of this policy ‘Hazing’ means forcing someone, with or without their consent; and as a condition of association with a group or organization; to perform an act, in any context and anywhere, whether the act be physical, mental, emotional or psychological, which subjects another to anything which may abuse, mistreat, degrade, humiliate, discomfort, ridicule, harm, or intimidate.”

Harassment and violence are pretty commonly understood discriminatory acts involving a violation of a victim’s physical security, whether perceived or actual. But the unexpected word in that list above is “bigotry.”

According to Webster’s New World College Dictionary, a bigot is “a person who holds blindly and intolerantly to a particular creed, opinion, etc.” or “a narrow-minded, prejudiced person.”

“Bigotry” and “intolerance” are synonyms. But they are fraternal, not identical, twins.

Rules, by their very nature, define certain behaviors as unacceptable or intolerable. I used to wonder, then, if rule books, which are necessary instances of codified intolerance, are not by their very nature bigoted. I used to wonder whether making a moral claim automatically rendered the claimant a bigot.

I then learned that “bigotry” carries with it connotations of violence and hatred, typically directed toward an identifiable group of people. So IWU’s rules against otherwise-legal alcohol consumption, for instance, are not bigoted because they are not motivated by hatred.

I am genuinely comforted by this realization, that the handbook outlaws all hatred-based actions directed toward all people, whether the policy specifically classifies them or not.

The drafters of IWU’s handbook apparently recognized how important the wording of this diversity statement is to a campus community. Too broad a clause could be interpreted as a form of extreme tolerance in which any moral claim is invalid, whereas too strict a definition would leave unintended gaps with unprotected groups of people.

The question for future handbook amendments is simpler to ask than it is to answer: Does the specificity of the nondiscrimination policy adequately protect all of IWU’s constituents from undue one-sidedness, or should it be amended?

This is a question that members of the IWU community members should ask themselves each and every year.

“Any persons who believe they are the object of such behaviors should speak to division chairpersons, resident directors, counselors or supervisors,” states Page 20 of the handbook. “If satisfactory resolution is not found, grievances may be filed in the manner indicated in the employee handbooks, the faculty handbook, or the university catalog.”


This column is part of a series:
The handbook: an introduction
The handbook: intellectual property
The handbook: free speech
The handbook: sexual misconduct
The handbook: bigotry

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