Tuesday, February 28, 2006

this is the introductory paragraph of my inquiry essay, along with the beginnings of my second paragraph/idea

As the ball sails through the sky, you follow it with your eyes, trying to pick up the rotation of the ball. You feel the opposing defender breathing down your neck, and hear him calling for his teammate to come cut off your right side. This will not be easy. As the ball begins to come back to earth, you shift your right shoulder down and push back the would-be defender. You then swivel your torso, deflecting the ball cooly off your chest and out ahead and to the left of you. You let it bounce once, fire, and watch the ball sail past the outstretched hands of the goalie. This is the sport of soccer, a sport that has gained immense worldwide stature, but relatively little of such success in the United States. Why is this? Why, given its popularity and prosperity overseas, are we as Americans so reluctant to embrace this beautiful sport? Well, I have experienced soccer my entire life. I play soccer in college, my brother played soccer in college as well. My dad holds a position with the Richmond Kickers, a local pro soccer team. It is a part of my life, and might I add, a very large part. It is the sport I love, and yet, I still have questions about the game and how it came to be what it is today. I have read interviews, research projects, and books about soccer. I have examined the financial, social, and cultural reasons that soccer has failed to prosper in the United States. I have studied accounts from all parts of the globe regarding the business aspects of soccer, and what soccer means to countries all over the world. And most importantly, I have lived and breathed soccer. I feel confident in telling you that what follows is a comprehensive look into all aspects and sides of the lack of support for soccer in the United States, as well as the reasons that it has grown into the "World’s Game" in all parts elsewhere.
Let me first take you back to the beginning. Soccer, in its essence, has been around since the start of the human race. People in Ancient China, Japan, and parts of South America all played games that were more or less similar to soccer. That is, they played games where a sphere-like ball was kicked into some sort of goal. It wasn’t discovered in its current rule set, however, until the mid-1800s. At this time, rugby was one of the biggest sports in England, and had its own governing committee. However, at the time rugby was sort of a hybrid between what we currently recognize as soccer and rugby. When the two split, soccer became to be known as "Association football," and the rules largely depended on where you played and the dimensions of the field you played on. For example, "At Winchester the field was narrow, dribbling was encouraged, and there were no goals: to score the players needed only to get the ball across the line (Murray, 3)." In 1877, a governing body for soccer as we know it was finally formed; the Football Association, or FA, of London. This body was responsible for spreading soccer throughout England, and as time went on, the rest of Europe, and outward into the other continents on the globe.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Prewriting to Generate Ideas

Freewriting (Time: 20 Minutes)

I have been involved in soccer for as long as I can remember. In fact, my entire family has been involved in the sport in one way or another. Because of this, I have always felt a certain inclination to the sport; it has effects on me daily, as well as on my father, as he works with the Richmond Kickers Pro Soccer team. In many foreign countries, I imagine that most of the youth are brought up in a similar way; their parents are or were involved in soccer in some way, as are or were their siblings. Its an inherent quality, that almost all children experience and live from their earliest days. So why, in the US as opposed to anywhere else, is soccer not regarded as the number one sport. Instead, we as citizens are bombarded with media coverage of football, baseball, and basketball. We find ourselves struggling to catch one soccer game a week on TV, and even major sports sources like ESPN shy away from the sport. What I am going to attempt to discover in my research is the reasons, motives, and actions that are examined and used in relation to the exposure of soccer. I have discovered a few reasons for America’s initial denial of the sport of soccer, chiefly concerning the character of a stereotypical American. We as Americans tend to be loud, boastful, self-serving, and have a strong fear of outside cultures. These characteristics are the exact opposite of the morals of soccer as a sport. Soccer is the ultimate team game; 11 players working together for 90 minutes in order to allow no goals, and score only one or two. One mistake can cause downfall, one show of brilliance can be the difference in a win or a loss. These teammates grow together, win together, and lose together, but fight to make their hometown, team, or country proud. They play the game in order to orchestrate beautiful spots of play, where control and precision are the name of the game. Americans, as w hole, prefer high-scoring affairs, with little or no defense. Take, for example, a typical basketball game, where scores reach into the 100’s for each team. Scoring is excting, and just as we embrace sex, drugs, and rock and roll, we also find ourselves embraced the guilty pleasure of high-scoring automatically meaning better.

Prewriting to Organize Ideas

Dramatize

Action- The thing that has occurred was an enormous growth of the sport of soccer outside of the US, while the US began to embrace baseball as it’s pastime. Called the “World’s game,” soccer began to show its importance in European, South American, and African countries. However, the US rejected the sport as anything more than a fun activity for the youth. Coverage was limited, and still is today, as only very important matches and the World Cup are given true media coverage. We are beginning to see more acceptance among Americans, and only time will tell what is going to happen as far as the sports growth here in our country.

Motive- The motives for this lack of growth in the US are what I am going to base most of my essay on, as they will help me determine why this shift occurred. One of the more interesting reasons that I have found thus far is that when America was beginning to be settled, the colonists rejected many of the ways of their former home. This rejection included the rejection of soccer, as these new Americans wanted their children to be different from all of the immigrants who were coming in (and who happened to play soccer). From its British roots, soccer picked up steam in African and South American countries, as it was easy to just pick up and play (just needed one ball, some sticks for goals).

Method- This lack of desire to accept soccer as a sport by American’s was simply done, at the beginning, to be different. Americans wanted to reject foreign cultural aspects, one of which was soccer. Americans who tried to organize soccer leagues prior to the mid-1900s encountered several problems. First of all, the people who tried to organize them usually had little to no interest in soccer, other than from a business standpoint. Because of this lack of care, if the investors saw these leagues as counter-beneficial, they would simply remove their funding, and fold the league. While soccer began to gain support in Asian countries in the mid to late 1900’s, soccer still saw only small amounts of improvement at home. Not until the World Cup touched down on US soil, followed soon after by the formation of Major League Soccer, had the sport seen any real advances towards what has been reached in other parts of the world.

Actors- The people involved in this action is a very diverse group. It involves all soccer players, fans, coaches, and managers, as they all play a vital role in how soccer is viewed and accepted around the world. Although my controversy focuses on the lack of advancement for support in the US, I can not simply look at the people in the US to fully grasp my controversy. I need to understand what goes on in other countries, from youth to professional, in order to understand what he have not achieved and what we can do to help our cause. Obviously, the purpose of my paper it to find out why the sport is opposed by the US as a community, and why it is so accepted in other places of the world.

Setting- This, like my set of actors, is also a very diverse group. Because of the nature of my community, there are several settings that I will be examining. I will be looking at the nature of soccer in the US, from where the games are played, to the lack of major city support, and in turn, lack of total support. I will also be looking at all of the other countries that embrace the sport, and asking myself what they have done to help the sport and, in turn, what we have not done. As far as time, I will be looking at soccer from its very roots; when it began, to when it started to thrive, to its movement into the US, and into its present state.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

My Annotated Bibliography

Deitsch, Richard. "Q& A: DaMarcus Beasley: The 23-year-old U.S national soccer team star is currently playing in Holland for PSV Eindhoven.(Scorecard)(Brief Article)(Interview)." Sports Illustrated 103.16 (Oct 24, 2005): 24. Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.

This text is an interview with one of the players from our national team, DeMarcus Beasley. In the interview, he gives his opinion on the differences between american soccer and soccer overseas, specifically in Holland. I feel like this source will be a good one to pull quotes from, as he gives an american perspective on how soccer is viewed overseas. Although this will not be one of my primary sources, it will be useful in adding to the overall feeling that most people in the U.S. share concerning soccer’s popularity and growth.

Duodu, Cameron. "World Cup, here we come! Oh, the joys of football. At long last, the glamorous Black Stars of Ghana have qualified for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. How it reminds all of us--full-blooded Ghanaian boys--of the good old days when we kicked stones and pebbles about, whilst trying to turn ofuntum (gum tree) juice and other things into footballs.(Under the Neem Tree)." New African 446 (Dec 2005): 46(2). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.

This article gives a different perspective concerning soccer’s growth around the world; specifically, from a native of Ghana. He delves into how soccer is developed in Africa, going into extreme detail concerning the rough conditions the people deal with. This includes playing on gravel paths, with balls made of rubber sap. He also gives clues as to why soccer is so popular in Africa, and in turn, around most of the world. This article will be useful in helping me develop reasons why soccer has gained popularity in areas outside of the U.S.

Ewing, Jack. "A Tough Game For Eurosport; The all-sports channel broadcasts it all, to 54 countries in 19 languages. But without access to the Premier League soccer games, it's a tough scrimmage." Business Week 3955 (Oct 17, 2005): 52. Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.

This article, from Business Week, focuses on the TV channel Eursport. It explains the problems that come with attempts to air soccer games that people will watch, considering the fact that all the big leagues have strong TV deals. Think of it in a similar vein to ABC owning the rights to Monday Night Football. It then discusses the troubles that the company is going through, in attempting to reach broader audiences through various programs stressing growth. I will use this article mainly to highlight some of the reasons that soccer, from a media standpoint, struggles.

Keating, Frann. "The glory's gone.(SPECTATOR SPORT, soccer)." Spectator 299.9243 (Oct 1, 2005): 79(1). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.

This text examines how soccer is treated by observers and spectators in England. It also talks about how people react to low-scoring games, and how this effects peoples perceptions of soccer as a sport. I will use this article in order to give a British perspective on how soccer is not covered by the media, and in what ways people can work to fix this and help alleviate the situation. It also goes into the differences between seeing a match in person and watching it on tv. I will use this section to help describe how important soccer matches are for supporters, in similar ways to american’s going to their respective teams games whenever they can

Murray, W. J. The World's Game : A History of Soccer. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996.

This book is a good source of information on the sport of soccer in general, over its entire history. It explains soccer from its roots, and goes into the reasons for its growths (or lack thereof) in the world. It also describes soccer as an ambassador of sorts for nations around the world, as it is able to bring together several different races and cultures with a simple game. Soccer is known as the "Beautiful Game," and this book explains why this is an accepted idea in almost all of the world.

Price, Stuart. "Africa: World Cup fever; The achievement of the four African nations--Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Angola--who will travel to Germany next year and make their debut on football's greatest stage is nothing short of remarkable, especially considering that three of the four are neighbouring countries. The other African qualifier is Tunisia. Stuart Price reports.(Around Africa)." New African 445 (Nov 2005): 20(1). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.

This article focuses on soccer in Africa, and the importance that is placed in making the World Cup in order to further the sport, nationally and globally. When we saw the World Cup come to the US (1994), soccer in the US received a small burst of coverage for soccer is a sport. This article examines how this boom is beginning to hit Africa, and enhance a sport that is played in Africa to a sport that is being covered in media as well. I will use this article to show the things that a continent like Africa is doing in order to give more popularity to soccer as a sport, and to perhaps give our own country some clues as to what can be done.

Serafini, Dom. "Italian soccer fans Americas' TV fans." Video Age International 25.6 (Oct 2005): 1(3). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.

This article will be one of my main sources, due to its extensive amount of information. It describes soccer in Italy as "Hollywood," and relates soccer as its "key entertainment vehicle." Italian soccer players are stars in their home countries, something that U.S. soccer players have not yet achieved. I will use this article to describe and report what soccer has reached in foreign countries, as a social catalyst for style, fashion, and pop culture.

Szymanski, Stefan. National Pastime : How Americans Play Baseball and the Rest of the World Plays Soccer. Washington, D.C. : Brookings Institution Press, 1960.

This book, written in 1960, is particularly interesting because of its examination of baseball taking over the United States, while the rest of the world embraced soccer. Because it was written in the midst of the crossover, it gives strong reasoning for both the United State’s hesitance with soccer and the rest of the worlds love affair with the sport. This will be one of my primary sources, as its length and amount of information will be vital for my controversy study. Although it is old, it’s age does not detract from the perspective that it offers on the reasons why soccer never grew in the United States.

Vivarelli, Nick, John Hopewell, Liza Klaussman, Ed Meza, and Steve Clarke. "The rights stuff: soccer scores big in new media.(TELEVISION/INTERNATIONAL)." Variety 401.13 (Feb 13, 2006): 30(1). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.

This is another article that I will be using a large amount of information from throughout my paper. It gives a country by country analysis of the media’s impact in several European countries. Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and the UK are all featured and discussed at length. It explains the reasons why the game’s tv rights are in such demand, and goes on to examine the omnicsent presence that soccer emits over the media and culture. This article will be useful due to its extensive research on overseas soccer coverage, and in turn, impact.

Weber, Bruce. "Growing the game: under the guidance of Hank Steinbrecher, the former Secretary General of the U.S. Soccer Federation, American soccer came of age.(PERSON TO PERSON)(Interview)." Coach and Athletic Director 75.5 (Dec 2005): 36(6). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.

This will, without a doubt, be one of my primary sources. It is a direct interview with a man who helped lead soccer in America to what it is today. Considering the changes we have seen in the 90's and into the present, it is easy to understand his influence on the game in the US. The interviewee, Mr. Steinbrecher, overs his opinions on soccer’s status in the United States, as opposed to overseas. He also reveals some of his personal experiences and accomplishments on bringing soccer into its current state.

Wentz, Laurel. "Goal-oriented game; Expect a flurry of ad action as World Cup scores with Latino fans." Advertising Age 77.5 (Jan 30, 2006): S1. Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. Randolph-Macon College. 26 February 2006.

I found this article to be helpful due to its descriptions of the media’s focus on Hispanic viewers and/or listeners. It goes into detail about the reasons why this is happening, and helps to describe its impact on Americans, as the primary minority is moving quickly to overwhelmingly Latino. It shows the lengths to which media groups will go, just to generate buzz about a game or a team. It also moves into the importance of the upcoming World Cup, and the buzz that is surrounding that event.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Chapter 2 Style Summary

The focus of Chapter 2 in the Style textbook is correctness; that is, when it is considered right to use certain words in certain situations. It begins by discussing the rules of grammar that we should understand as correct or incorrect, such as never beginning a sentence with and or but. It also outlines the fact that we should use not only good judgement but also good memory to form these "correct" choices. It then delves into the importance of history, notable geography, as a basis for what forms of english are considered correct. It goes on by stating that we must not look at grammatical errors as a result of social stature, as it has no basis in terms of intelligence or superiority. There are three kinds of rules that have been established as ways to determine if English is good; these include a set of "real rules," a set of rules concerning "Standard English," and finally, a set of rules called "folklore." These rules, according to Joseph Williams, should be understood and followed through "selective observance;" following the rules, but also bending them in order to put your own stamp on the English language. Williams then separates these invented rules into two sub-groups; folklore, where if the rule is broken few will notice and even fewer will care, and elegant options, rules that invoke a sense of your own special care about your work. It ends by discussing various irregularities concerning correctness, including such subjects as hobgoblins (items that we find in english regularly but are not correct).

Friday, February 24, 2006

I thought I posted this yesterday, but its obviously not up so lets try this again...
My summary of Style: Chapter 1

The first chapter of Joseph M. William’s book "Style" gives us a good idea of what style can be defined as and how we can use it as writers. It first delves into the past to give us a history of our writing, using actual quotes as examples. What it shows us is how formally, writing overly complex writing was looked upon as more eloquent, and therefore better. However, writings like those shown in the book proved hard to understand, and lacked any sort of clarity. We see more examples of this overly complex writing as the chapter moves on, looking at quotes from recent times. It talks about the confusion certain authors have concerning having a difficult style, or simply being a deep thinker. It also harps on the problems that most all authors have; that is, not knowing how others will read and understand our writing. Our own writing always seems clear to us, because it has crawled out from our mind onto paper. However, a good writer can mold their thoughts into easy to understand ideas that others can interpret. It then goes into the details of proper drafting techniques. Drafts should be looked at and treated as just that; drafts. The point of the draft is to get your opinions and ideas onto paper. From there, you can edit as you see fit in order to make your ideas more clear to the everyday reader. It ends with a quote from H.L. Mencken, highlighting to importance of appreciating writing as a skill that cannot be taught by rule. Rather, it must be felt and seen by both the writer and the reader, so that the ideas of each respective party can be presented and transferred in an effective manner.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Intramural soccer

Ok, so this may not seem like a justified, or even a decent, choice for a blogging exercise. Well, bear with me. I am going to attempt to find some things about the nature of intramural sports, and in turn, some things about myself. I play on an Indoor Soccer team which has games about 3 times a week, for a little over a month. As per the rules, we are allowed 3 varsity soccer players for each team, so the rest of the team is made up of whoever we may be able to round up, skills aside. Obviously, the more senior laden teams have more talent because of this, as they know the kids at school who are former soccer players, and have had their rosters set for 2 or 3 years already. This leaves my team in a precarious position, as we found it very hard to fill out our roster with semi-decent to decent players. We managed to find a few kids who played soccer in high school, but for the most part our team is comprised of people who just wanted to play for the sake of fun. Now I am not one of those people who doesn’t think their respective sport should be viewed as fun. I love soccer, and couldn’t see myself playing any other sport. However, when it comes to game time, I get a competitive streak. I think of nothing less than winning, and that’s just how I approach the game. Now the question comes with this...do I play the entire game, so that we have a better chance to win, or do I just allow everyone to play because intramural ARE supposed to be for fun, and for nothing else. Well, in today’s game, I sat myself out for more than half the game. I made sure everyone that came played as much as, if not more, than myself. We ended up losing, but everyone seemed happy to have participated, and that made me feel good. I feel like we should take intramural’s for what they are; a chance to play with people that you can’t always play with, and just have some fun. In the end, I always want the win. However, if all of my teammates are happy at the end of the game, I’ll walk away with a smile on my face. And a loss.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

This is a one paragraph outline for a term paper that I am doing for my Journalism class.

I have decided that my subject for my term paper will be focused on the future of music and the ways in which this will affect the recording industry as times goes on. With the advent of such technologies as mp3 music files, as well as the newfound love affair with all things iPod, I feel like there will be a good amount of current data to research. I also feel like this is a subject that will affect my generation in a very important manner. We have grown up through the internet, and will continue to do so as we age. Along with this, we will begin to become internet consumers of music, a process which has already begun. Songs and albums can be bought through such services as iTunes, where you can pay through credit card and download them directly to your PC. Although I do not believe these services will ever spell the end of the recording industry, they will nonetheless have a huge impact on the ways in which we, as consumers, come to obtain music. This subject is one that I am looking forward to investigating, and I believe that I will be able to find out more about my generation and the way we think and act concerning the music industry.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The following is a reaction/analysis on an interaction between my brother and his girlfriend this past weekend.

The Super Bowl is an event that brings friends and families together for a day of food consumption, football watching, and general bonding. But it also brings about those awkward family moments where something is said that can only elicit a single response...what? Now, my brother (age of 24) is a diehard Pittsburgh Steelers fan, in large part due to my dad’s side of the family being almost exclusively from that area. He also has an extreme, if not unhealthy, obsession with the Steelers quarterback, a young man named Ben Roethlisburger. As we are all watching the game, minding our own business, my brother looks over at his girlfriend and utters the following words; "Don’t you think Ben Roethlisburger is hot?" His girlfriend seems startled and a bit confused, and after a moment or two of silence, my brother says, "I think that you should think he is hot." As I struggle to comprehend what I have just heard, I begin to wonder why in the world he would want his girlfriend to think the quarterback of his favorite team is good looking. Is he so insecure with himself that he, in the midst of wearing a Roethlisburger jersey, needs her approval of both himself and his quarterback? Or is he simply so enamored by his team that he feels that the entire team is good looking, and anyone who dates him must feel the same way? Why would he say this in a public place such as a Super Bowl Party? Upon a few days of pondering this event, I have come to the following conclusion. I feel that he has no real insecurity with his girlfriend or their status, as they have been together for well over three years and, in fact, live together. However, even though insecurity may not be the issue, a desire for authority may. He wants her to like his quarterback not just for his stellar play, but for all of his human traits, looks included. He wants to feel like his team is her team, his players are her players. He wants that authority and dominance over her football likes and dislikes, and wants to be able to show this to others, as if to say, "She’s got my back even if you don’t." So he first asks her if she thinks the quarterback is hot, but then rephrases it to be "I think that you should think hes hot." He goes from a simple question with no real direction, to a question that asserts his dominance over her, and in essence, the basic dominance of males over females in the human relationship. For this reason, even though his question at first seemed like little more than an odd quip from the peanut gallery, it is in truth a statement of basic human nature; of the authority that most men feel is neccessary in relationships in order to be considered a "true man."

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Controversy Journal

The community that I will be exploring in my Inquiry Essay is one that I am very familiar with. I will be exploring the community of soccer fans, players, and coaches in the United States of America. People in this community are people who have a true passion for the sport of soccer, or "the beautiful game." European and South American soccer resembles dancing more than any sport, as evidenced by Brazilian stars like Ronaldinho. When he is moving the ball around, juking and swerving past helpless defenders, it all seems like a choreographed set of movements; an elaborate dance, of sorts. Many players in the NCAA soccer association play for nothing more than their own enjoyment. They may not ever play past college, but they know that the game is about more than making big bucks and signing endorsements. It’s about going out with your friends and teammates, competing together and working with each other to reach that single goal that will give you the win. However, the controversy that I will be exploring is a subject that I am not very familiar with. That is, the simple question of why soccer isn’t more popular in the united states, considering its worldwide status. In almost every other country in the world, soccer is the number one sport, both for participants and spectators. I will be looking into all aspects of the soccer systems implemented in the U.S. and around the world, from youth to professional. I will explore the reasons that Americans are "turned off" by soccer as a sport. Sure, we do see a good amount of youth involvement, but at some point in between the high school and college days, all of the truly gifted athletes choose sports like baseball, basketball, or football. They chase after the big markets that we have for these sports, leaving behind the less established professional soccer league we have, the MLS. I will also be examining cultural issues (i.e., our fear of foreign cultural aspects) as well as the issue of stereotypes for soccer players. This is a controversy to which I am very attached, as soccer has always been a part of my life. Throughout this semester, I will attempt to dissect this controversy in order to form my own educated opinion on why this is happening and what can be done to change it for the sport that I love.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

My completed journal entry...
J2/ Growing up, you belonged to several communities, but the most obvious one was probably the community that you lived in...your neighborhood. As a young adult, you are moving away from that community and entering others. Help your classmates and me visualize the communities that you belong to as the neighborhood where “You” currently reside. In other words, if “You” were neighborhood, comprised of different houses with residents inside of them which represent the different communities that you consider yourself part of, what would it look like? From the list of communities that you wrote down for Journal 1, choose 4-6 communities and describe them as houses on “You” street. In order to help us truly understand the nature of these communities—their members, their shared beliefs, and the tensions/controversies within them—you may want to begin by freewriting about the following questions (adapted from Thomas Deans):
The first house on my neighborhood would definitely be the house containing my immediate family; that is, my mom, my dad, my brother, and my sister. They are the people that I can always count on, that I know will always be there for me no matter what. They play a huge role in my life, as they represent my roots and my upbringing. I know in my heart that no matter what squabbles we may find ourselves in, we will always resolve it in the end, because that is how much respect and care we have for each other. They have also affected my political affiliations, my choices in sports (soccer, for the most part), and even my choice in college (my brother graduated from RMC in 05). This house contains all of my baby pictures and childhood memories, from building forts with sofa cushions, to exploring the creek behind our house. Everyone in my family has pretty much the same sense of humor, save my dad, and this leads to some confrontations between my father and the rest of us. Things we find funny, he finds childish, but we always end up laughing it off in the end. Also, as with most families, there is a certain level of sibling tension. I will fight with my brother over such futile things as who’s socks im wearing, or what channel to watch on the big screen. I will fight with my sister over all of the DVD’s she has stolen from me, and she will continue to this day to deny any such wrongdoing. However, these controversies and tensions are only out of love, and for the mere fact that we all see a little too much of each other when we are all home.
The second house on my neighborhood would be, what I call, the "Soccer House." Soccer is one of the most important things in my life, for the simple fact that it keeps me grounded. No matter what is going wrong in my life elsewhere, whether it involves school, relationships, or family troubles, I know that I can go kick around the ball and just escape for a little while. It offers me salvage from the more harsh realities of the real world, and lets me experience youth when I know that I am quickly approaching true adulthood. All of the people that I play soccer are always people that I feel like I can count on and trust. When you go through the hardships of a season, as me and my teammates have, you gain a bond that is very similar to a family environment. The main difference in this, however, is the lack of a mother, as our coach definitely plays the role of father figure. Here at school, he holds meetings with us weekly, just to find out how things are going and what we are up to. He sticks by us when we need his help, and my teammates and myself know that we would do the same for him. As with any sports, tensions are high, especially when we have such a passionate group of athletes. I have gotten into fights with my teammates and my coaches over petty issues, but I have always been able to resolve these issues with them the next day or night. In this way, they are very similar to the structure of my family; of course fights will happen, but when you see people as much as I see my teammates, a few things are bound to get on your nerves at some point.
My fraternity, Theta Chi, would be the third house on the neighborhood of "Me." My Theta Chi brothers here at Randolph-Macon are basically my most trusted friends at school. In fact, many of them also play on the soccer team with me, which only heightens the bond between us. The rewards of being in this community are countless. These guys act like true brothers to me, and will do anything they can possibly do in order to help me, no matter what the cost. Our motto is "to lend a helping hand," and I think that is exactly what we do for each other and anyone else we come into contact with. Of course, when your dealing with a group of over 40 guys, tensions are bound to be high. Not every brother is my best friend, and in fact, some of them annoy me to no end. Being in a fraternity with someone reveals a lot about their character, and so nothing is left hidden between us. Because of this, we are bound to find people that we just plain dislike among eachother. However, our brotherhood is stronger than that, and we stay united in order to help one another and look past our personal issues. This membership has given me countless networking skills that I will be able to use in the real world to my advantage.
The fourth and final house on my street would be the Minnesota Vikings house. This house would definitely be the roomiest in the neighborhood, seeing as I am the only Vikings fan that I know. I came to become a Vikings fan our of a sheer hate for the Washington Redskins, the local team, as well as the Pittsburgh Steelers, my brother’s team. I began paying attention to the NFL in about 1998, the year that the Vikings drafted Randy Moss. Since then, I have lived vicariously through them and their exploits in the NFL. The benefits in this community, up to this point in my life, have been slim to none. They have only made it to one NFC championship game in my years as a fan, and have never made it to the Super Bowl. However, they represent my overall passion for sports, as even the crappiest of seasons can not change my outlook as a fan. I stick by them through thick and thin, just as my family, fraternity brothers, and fellow soccer players have done for me. I will also continue to support them no matter what happens, as I know I will do for my family, brothers, and teammates. The only tension in this group exists between myself and the team when they lose a game. I will literally be mad for the entire week if they lose a game, and sadly, I have experienced more of these weeks then winning weeks. However, I know that I will stay true to them as a fan and as a member of their community, if for nothing else than the freedom of being the only one in the Minnesota Vikings house.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

J2/ Growing up, you belonged to several communities, but the most obvious one was probably the community that you lived in...your neighborhood. As a young adult, you are moving away from that community and entering others. Help your classmates and me visualize the communities that you belong to as the neighborhood where “You” currently reside. In other words, if “You” were neighborhood, comprised of different houses with residents inside of them which represent the different communities that you consider yourself part of, what would it look like? From the list of communities that you wrote down for Journal 1, choose 4-6 communities and describe them as houses on “You” street. In order to help us truly understand the nature of these communities—their members, their shared beliefs, and the tensions/controversies within them—you may want to begin by freewriting about the following questions (adapted from Thomas Deans):

This is what I have completed so far for this journal entry...I will post the rest tomorrow when I finish it.

The first house on my neighborhood would definitely be the house containing my immediate family; that is, my mom, my dad, my brother, and my sister. They are the people that I can always count on, that I know will always be there for me no matter what. They play a huge role in my life, as they represent my roots and my upbringing. I know in my heart that no matter what squabbles we may find ourselves in, we will always resolve it in the end, because that is how much respect and care we have for each other. They have also affected my political affiliations, my choices in sports (soccer, for the most part), and even my choice in college (my brother graduated from RMC in 05). This house contains all of my baby pictures and childhood memories, from building forts with sofa cushions, to exploring the creek behind our house. Everyone in my family has pretty much the same sense of humor, save my dad, and this leads to some confrontations between my father and the rest of us. Things we find funny, he finds childish, but we always end up laughing it off in the end. Also, as with most families, there is a certain level of sibling tension. I will fight with my brother over such futile things as who’s socks im wearing, or what channel to watch on the big screen. I will fight with my sister over all of the DVD’s she has stolen from me, and she will continue to this day to deny any such wrongdoing. However, these controversies and tensions are only out of love, and for the mere fact that we all see a little too much of each other when we are all home.
The second house on my neighborhood would be, what I call, the "Soccer House." Soccer is one of the most important things in my life, for the simple fact that it keeps me grounded. No matter what is going wrong in my life elsewhere, whether it involves school, relationships, or family troubles, I know that I can go kick around the ball and just escape for a little while. It offers me salvage from the more harsh realities of the real world, and lets me experience youth when I know that I am quickly approaching true adulthood. All of the people that I play soccer are always people that I feel like I can count on and trust. When you go through the hardships of a season, as me and my teammates have, you gain a bond that is very similar to a family environment. The main difference in this, however, is the lack of a mother, as our coach definitely plays the role of father figure. Here at school, he holds meetings with us weekly, just to find out how things are going and what we are up to. He sticks by us when we need his help, and my teammates and myself know that we would do the same for him. As with any sports, tensions are high, especially when we have such a passionate group of athletes. I have gotten into fights with my teammates and my coaches over petty issues, but I have always been able to resolve these issues with them the next day or night. In this way, they are very similar to the structure of my family; of course fights will happen, but when you see people as much as I see my teammates, a few things are bound to get on your nerves at some point.

Monday, February 13, 2006

J1/ In “Community, Commitment, and Individuality,” Bellah et al argue that community involvement leads to and fosters civic individualism/civic engagement. Think about the example of Angelo Donatello, who found that embracing his individual heritage as an Italian-American compelled him to join not only a local chapter of the Sons of Italy but also inspired him to become a civic leader in Boston. Think also about Cecilia Dougherty, whose sense of civic engagement—her desire to help the “have nots have power that reflects their numbers” (pg. 84)—extends from her awareness of her private life, i.e. the values instilled in her by her parents as well as her struggles as a widowed housewife with four children. Make a comprehensive list of the many communities—large/small, formal/informal, serious/silly—that you consider yourself a part of. For each community, reflect on what has led you to participate in these communities. Did you join a particular community because it reflected the values you were raised with (such as a religious youth group or)? The values/interests you are beginning to embrace on your own (such as a “simple living” club or a “literary society”)? The values/interests of your peers (such as a ‘greek’ organization or a “Maroon 5” fan club)? To what degree is your membership in these communities an extension of private and/or social aspects of your personality? Please explain.
Soccer Player
Soccer is a sport that has been in my family since my brother started playing when he was only 6. I, of course, followed in his footsteps, joining the same club team and playing through high school, continuing with the team here at RMC. My dad also is the President of the Richmond Kickers pro soccer team.
Member of a Fraternity
As a member of the Theta Chi fraternity here on RMC’s campus, I am a member of not only our chapter but of the fraternity throughout the nation. The thought of that level of brotherhood and commradiarie, as well as my relationships with the members I met as a freshman (including my brother) led me to join. I couldn’t be happier with the people I have met through this, and I know that in the real world I will meet other members of Theta Chi who will be able to aid me in any way that I may need.
Direct Family Community
I feel like my direct family has been vital to my growth as a person. Although our relationships with my cousins, etc., may not be as evident, I still count on them when I need something and know I can trust them. My brother and sister are two of my best friends in the world, as are my mother and father. If all else fails, I feel like they are always a crutch that I can lean back on.
Lovers of "Family Guy"
Although this is a bit less serious then my above examples, I think it still shows a strong character trait; that is, a strong sense of humor. The family guy TV show is always one to poke fun at popular culture, and I find this to be some of the most entertaining stuff that I have ever seen. It never shies away from any subject, and teaches you (if you can believe it teaches anything) that you can’t take everything as supremely serious all the time; its important to have fun and maintain a sense of humor.
Formally Latin Club
I used to be in the Latin club in high school. Basically I did it to put on college applications, but none the less, it was my first foray into such a club. It taught me such important lessons as NOT MISSING MEETINGS. I use this skill now in meeting with my coaches and for fraternity meetings, as well as at work.
Minnesota Vikings fans
Now this one im a bit ashamed of, but I still love them more than any sports team (professional, that is). I grew up being force fed Washington Redskins hoopla, and simply could not see myself liking them. My dad is from Pennsylvania, so my brother began liking the Pittsburgh Steelers. I choose the Vikings for reasons unbeknownst to me at the time, but I carry the passion of being a true fan with me to this day. Even when they have terrible seasons, all my friends know me as the "One Vikings Fan" on the planet.
Bloggers
Now, this is a new one to me. I have never blogged in my life, nor will I see myself doing it after this class. However, I am now a full fledged blogger, something that my roommate enjoys making fun of. Nearly every time I am at my computer, I hear these words echo from his desk... "You Bloggin???" He loves making fun of this fact, and I find it funny myself. It seems like it’s a nerdy thing to do, and in fact, still seems that way. However, it is a good forum for posting my works and documents, and will help me in the long run.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

J/ Write two shorter essays (3-4 paragraphs each) using only one type of appeal (argument from any one of the following: heart, values, character, reason) for each essay. So, if you write one essay that is "all heart", your second essay might be all reason. Again, you may use logical fallacies if you think that they will help you convince your reader. Identify which appeal you are using in each essay ahead of time (i.e. Essay 1: Argument from the heart) Be sure to identify your audience before you write your essay. (i.e. Audience: Dr. Malesh OR Audience: The Chronicle of Higher Education OR Audience: My Mother to whom I am explaining why I got a "C" in my writing class).

Tried to post this yesterday, but my computer was acting up...stupid machines

Essay 2: Argument from values
Audience: My fellow writers

Values are important in all aspects of life. They affect the way you act, the way you feel, and the way you think. They define you as an individual living in a community, as they can either bring you closer or set you apart from that community. They determine your behavior, how you act and how you react in the world. So obviously, they must have some bearing on writing, correct? I mean, how can a writer truly exhibit a passionate response to anything if they don’t include their own values in the writing. Writers need to be able to put their own customs and roots into their work in order to make it more interesting and enticing to readers. Good writers are able to do this almost automatically, placing their own behaviourial instincts almost unconsciously into their work. This skill cannot be taught, just as the skill of being a "good writer" cannot be taught. Rather, they can only be honed and molded in order for someone to reach their own personal peak as a writer.
When you read anything, whether it’s a short story, a report, or a poem, you need to feel a connection with the writer in order to really care about what you are reading. One of the best ways to create this connection is by placing your own values into your work. Now, this is not to say that your values will match all of your readers personal values, as this is highly unlikely. However, if even one of your values comes across in your writing, the reader will recognize it as a little taste of you in the writing. It will add a level of personality to the writing, and the reader will see this as a human to human connection. The problem with many people when they write is that they simply state the facts, offering none of their own principles or thoughts. If readers see a human level of connection, they will respond to the writing in a more positive manner.
As I stated before, it is not possible to teach someone to be a "good writer." Certainly, advances can be made on such things as syntax, grammar, and spelling. But what makes a good writer "good," in my opinion, is the ability to make a connection with the reader. This ability can also not be taught; it must simply be inherent, it must be a part of the writer as a person. When writers insert their own values into their work, it makes that very connection with the reader. It adds a more human sense to a craft that is quickly turning into a more technology-based beast. With the advent of computer word processor’s and printers and copiers, true writing is becoming a lost art. We are substituting real human passion for cold, hard facts. Good writers recognize this, and without even thinking, add their own subtle nuances so that the reader is directly on their level. Using this ability (the ability to place values into a writer’s work) is a leisurely task for some; a exercise in futility for others. It can’t be passed on from a teacher to a student in any effective manner, much in the same way that the ability to be a good writer cannot be learned.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

This is my introductory paragraph for my persuasive essay (1 of 2). This is for the argument from the heart. I am not completely satisfied with it, but I feel like I have a good start. My audience is my fellow writers.

Essay One: Argument from the Heart

Writing is something that comes from within; it cannot be forced nor requested, but rather it must simply flow from the mind and soul onto paper. For this reason, good writing cannot be taught by one person unto another. Certainly, students of the craft can learn techniques that will improve such things as grammar, sentence structure, and the like, but this is not what defines good writing. Good writing is where the author is able to convey what we are unable to say, as opposed to things which we can all say. The author must be able to produce their thoughts onto a piece of paper, in a manner that can reach the masses, and, in turn, help to transform the readers thoughts, ideas, and outlooks. The production of these thoughts is aided in large part by the writers ability to open up a vein, a gateway from their heart to written word. Those who have trouble expressing their ideas in literature have this trouble because they are blocking this gateway, and instead focusing on facts and opinions that they have already seen or heard in their lifetime. The ability to say what has not been said, to write what has not been written, is what defines those "good writers." This ability is not something that can be taught in the classroom or studied in a library. It is an innate attribute; a power that only a few possess, and even fewer attempt to cultivate. The gift can be there, but the attitude may not always be. Because of this, it is important for a truly good writer to have writing in his or her blood, flowing through them at all times. They are then able to transfer their thoughts and feelings from the heart to the mind, and then, to paper. To quote William Wordsworth, "Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart."

Friday, February 10, 2006

J/ Write two shorter essays (3-4 paragraphs each) using only one type of appeal (argument from any one of the following: heart, values, character, reason) for each essay. So, if you write one essay that is "all heart", your second essay might be all reason. Again, you may use logical fallacies if you think that they will help you convince your reader. Identify which appeal you are using in each essay ahead of time (i.e. Essay 1: Argument from the heart) Be sure to identify your audience before you write your essay. (i.e. Audience: Dr. Malesh OR Audience: The Chronicle of Higher Education OR Audience: My Mother to whom I am explaining why I got a "C" in my writing class).

This is my completed first essay; I posted part of it yesterday, but I ended up changing it around a bit in order to better fit what I had to say. Once again, the audience is my fellow writers.

Essay One: Argument from the Heart

Writing is something that comes from within; it cannot be forced nor requested, but rather it must simply flow from the mind and soul onto paper. For this reason, good writing cannot be taught by one person unto another. Certainly, students of the craft can learn techniques that will improve such things as grammar, sentence structure, and the like, but this is not what defines good writing. Good writing is where the author is able to convey what we are unable to say. Anybody can do a report on, say, the population boom of China in the 1900's. Reports are simple restatement exercises, with no real emotion attached to them. Writing is not about reporting, its about creation. Its about capturing what you are experiencing as a human being, and being able to share this experience. Readers respond to these creations, because they may too be feeling the exact same way. But what separates the readers from the writers isn’t the ability to feel that way, but instead to capture that feeling and translate it onto paper for the entire world to see.
The author must be able to produce their own thoughts onto a piece of paper, in a manner that can reach the masses, and, in turn, help to transform the readers thoughts, ideas, and outlooks. The production of these thoughts is aided in large part by the writers ability to open up a vein, a gateway from their heart to written word. Those who have trouble expressing their ideas in literature do so because they are blocking this gateway, and instead focusing on facts and opinions that they have already seen or heard in their lifetime. The ability to say what has not been said, to write what has not been written, is what defines those "good writers." This ability is not something that can be taught in the classroom or studied in a library. It is an innate attribute; a power that only a few possess, and even fewer attempt to cultivate. The gift can be there, but the attitude may not always be. Because of this, it is important for a truly good writer to have writing in his or her blood, flowing through them at all times. They are then able to transfer their thoughts and feelings from the heart to the mind, and then, to paper. To quote William Wordsworth, "Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart."
Now, this is not to say all writing should come directly from the heart. Writers must add in other facts and viewpoints in order to strengthen their argument. But what is important is backing up these facts with what you, as the writer, feels. The stronger you feel about a topic, the more effort your going to put into it. Obviously then, the more effort that you put into it, the greater the end result will be. And after all, what is the point in writing if your not gonna pour your own blood and sweat and tears into the work? We as writers are not doing this for money or fame (at least not yet). We write because we feel that it gives us an escape; a chance to be free, to put pen to paper and create what has not yet been created. By using your heart, your emotion, you can capture that very moment when you are writing on paper. That is what readers want; they want to feel what you feel, smell what you smell, taste what you taste. How are they going to experience any sensory details if you as the author leave them out? By opening up yourself and putting it all out there, you create things that would otherwise remain with you and you alone. A true writer knows the value of heart in their writing, and when they apply it, masterpieces are created and the beauty of the english language can be seen.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

J/ Describe your expectations for this class. What do you expect this class to be? What is influencing your perceptions of this class? What do you want to leave this class knowing? What are your goals for the class? What are you looking forward to in the class? What are you nervous about? What is the most important change you want to see in yourself of your writing that you think this course could foster?

As I stated on the first day our class met, one of the main reasons I choose this class was because it was an open english course. However, I also had some other motives regarding my choice of an "Advanced Expository Writing" course. For one thing, I recognized that this class would no doubt have a multitude of writing assignments. As everyone in the class now knows, this is not a concern, as we will be writing at least 30 minutes each day, not including class time. This amount of practice will no doubt improve my skills as a writer, as I have never experienced a course in my entire life where writing is expected and assigned daily. I also think that this class will be able to help me format my writing as a tool of persuasion, a skill which I will no doubt be using in the real world. One of the main things I am looking forward to is the fact that this class will be much more involved than most of the classes I have experienced in my time at Randolph-Macon. Some teachers feel that lecturing for the entire hour (or two hours) is the only way to teach a class, and I feel that this method does nothing but put students to sleep. I am a little nervous about having all of my writings available online for the entire class to see, but I think that has to do more with my attitudes as a writer than anything else. As with most people who write, I feel that my works, my creations, are always something to be admired rather than criticized. However, I have faith that any criticism will be more positive reinforcement than anything else. The main thing I want to see change in myself regarding writing is my ability to persuade others through my writing. I feel like as I move on past Randolph-Macon, I will need this skill in order to improve my status in the real world, whether it is applying to graduate school, searching for a job, or just sending a letter to a family friend. As an extension of this, I believe that my skills in persuasion will transcend writing and include every type of communication including speech.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

J/Discuss your experience with writing. How do you understand yourself as a writer? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are your writing techniques/process (i.e. Do you do any prewriting? Are you are compulsive drafter? Do you wait until the last minute? Do you use paper or a computer to compose? Do you follow any formulas for writing?)

I don’t remember when I first started writing. For that matter, I don’t remember when I first started to really enjoy writing. In middle school, I was always more interested in Science or Math than in anything that had to do with english. However, as I moved through high school, I began to notice that I had an innate ability to express myself through writing, both prose and poetry. I found a certain sense of freedom, an ability to create without being constrained by walls or boundaries. Certainly this is not always the case, as teachers constantly demand word counts and strict topic guidelines, but to be honest, that is not the writing that really appeals to me. I have no problem writing on a specific topic, and I find that when I do, I more often than not meet the requirements for the schooling system’s view of a "good paper." However, I also feel that some of these so called "good papers" are not anything that I would be truly proud of as a writer. This, I feel, is one of my weaknesses, because for some of these papers I simply turn in what I have written, without having any sort of emotional or mental attachment to the work. Because I lack this attachment, I tend to be less careful about what is actually being said in my document, and I don’t produce what I know I am capable of doing. I think that my main strengths as far as writing are my clarity, my creativity, and to an extent, my organization. Regarding clarity, I feel like I have a very good ability to transfer exactly what I am thinking onto paper, in a manner that is easy to comprehend for the reader. With creativity, I’m referring to not only my ability to create something out of nothing, but my ability to play with the english language and create enthralling stories that really draw the reader in. In high school every English teacher I encountered preached organization, so I have been drilled with the ideas of topic sentences, three-prong thesis’s, and what have you. However, I do tend to stray from the accepted norm of organizational writing, which is why I attributed it as a strength to a certain extent. I have never been a person to use any real prewriting techniques, as I find my best work is done by simply starting with a blank canvas and letting my mind guide my writing. I tend to do most of my work on the computer, if for nothing else than ease of use. My handwriting is nothing to boast about, especially when my hand gets tired, so typing my texts takes less of a toll on myself, as well as the reader.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Welcome