Swirling Round the Superbowl

Okay, nerds, here are some greatest Superbowl hits from the ILYBYGTH archives so you can feel involved in today’s festivities.

jesus_football

…to the ten…to the five…JESUS CHRIST with the TOUCHDOWN!!!!!

1.) What’s the deal with football and fundamentalism? Liberty University’s coaching hire last year had us all wondering once again what really matters at evangelical universities.

2.) The teams aren’t the same, but this culture-war drinking game idea from 2015 should still work.

3.) Why is school reform pricier than two entire Superbowls? The question came up back in August, 2017, but it is still sort of depressing.

4.) Tommy Brady and Bill Belichick help explain why school reform is so difficult.

Gratuitous Superbowl Reference: What Does Tommy Brady Have to Do with School Reform?

Okay, I admit it: I don’t know much about sports. I DO know that toilet cleanliness isn’t the first thing I think of when I think of the Superbowl. So if Febreze can horn in on Superbowl frenzy with a stupid ad, then we here at ILYBYGTH feel compelled to try to make some connection to Tommy Brady, too. So here it is: The reason schools are so difficult to reform is because they don’t have clearly painted endzones.

febreze superbowl ad

Like sports? Clean your toilet!

Here’s what we mean: In football, unorthodox thinking gets rewarded, if it works. Coaches who come up with schemes that get the ball across the pylon win games. In schools, unorthodox thinking is much more difficult. Why? Because there isn’t a good way to prove that it works. People like Eva Moskowitz use test scores, but that is clearly inadequate. Would you want your second-grader to endure silent lunches?

Other folks suggest measuring the difference in student knowledge at the end of a year, compared to the beginning, but teachers and researchers howl in protest. With something as complicated as a student’s life, how can you say that you can measure the effectiveness of their classes that way?

In the end, we don’t have a clearly defined goal for what makes schools better, because we don’t have agreement on what counts as “good” when it comes to education.

  • Higher test scores? Sure. But we also want students to learn to think outside the box.
  • Winning at competitions? Of course. But we also want students to get practice working together.
  • Memorizing important information? That’s a good thing, IMHO, in spite of what generations of my progressive comrades have said. But I wouldn’t be happy with a school that did only that.
  • Getting into college? That sounds good, but in practice it usually tells us more about students’ families than their schools.

Bill Belicheck and Tommy Brady can wear ugly outfits, be old, and deflate their balls as much as they want. They will still be recognized as great, even by their worst enemies. They can point to accomplishments and measurements that everyone has agreed on.

With schools, we just don’t have that. So we end up falling into endless arguments without any way to point to a clear winner.

Jesus at the SuperBowl: A Drinking Game

To my fellow Americans who plan to watch the Superbowl today: please join me in a fun culture-war drinking game. Every time you see or hear a coach or player wax theological, take a drink. If today’s game is anything like previous events, we will probably get good and sloshed by the end.

Everyone who watches sports knows that big-league sports is one of the most common places for conservative religion to pop into mainstream media. It’s different from other types of entertainment. If you watch Jeopardy or the Big Bang Theory, for example, you will never hear characters or contestants offering Bible verses to explain their victories.

In bigtime sports, however, it is not at all unusual to see players, coaches, and commentators invoking the wrath of Jesus as part of their pre-game planning or post-game wrap up. In today’s game, we are invited to wonder if Tom Brady will finally turn to Jesus. We know that Russell Wilson already has.