By Jared Gomberg
At Village School, there are always interesting electives offered each semester. Since my time as a student, there have been electives focusing on ornithology, car engineering, and even the history and culture of China. This semester, a new English elective caught my attention.
While my schedule didn’t allow me to take this class, I was able to sit down and speak with Lauren Gengo—the teacher of Sports Literature—about this new offering.
Lauren summed up her motivation to teach this class by saying, “Some of the things I wanted to explore why we play sports, why we watch sports, why they’re such a major part of American culture. I’m also interested in looking at sports hero’s through the lens of literary themes and lenses like the tragic hero and the American Dream”.
The class will explore these topics through literature and films, which is an interesting way of looking at sports. Some of the books they will sample from are, It’s Not About the Bike, Lance Armstrong’s autobiography, and despite Lauren’s “slight bias” towards one of her favorite athletes, it is an interesting story. They will also be reading parts of Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell, The Blind Side, by Michael Lewis, and, The Natural, by Bernard Malamud. Some films they will view are Remember the Titans, The Armstrong Lie, and 42.
One of the main questions that will be asked in this class is, “Is it an athlete’s responsibility to be a role model for a society?” In this day and age, we tend to elevate professional sports players to god-like levels. Is the pressure that comes with being a pro- football player, an Olympic runner or a NBA Champion in addition to the pressure to serve as a role model for everyone just too much?