Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Class Is In Session

One of TigerBlog Jr.'s last assignments for the school year was to do a report and presentation the his reading class.

The subject? Anything you wanted. Anything in the entire world.

TigerBlog asked TBJ to put together a list of what everyone did for their presentations, and he came up with the following:

The Miracle on Ice
The History of Lacrosse
UV Rays
Asperger Syndrome
Cap Com
Heather Brewer
The Black Sox Scandal
Erno Rubik
The History of Video Games
Water Pollution
Shawn Johnson
World War II

For the record, TBJ did not do his on the history of lacrosse. In fact, it wasn't even a boy who did it on that subject.

No, TBJ's was on the Miracle on Ice, the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team's gold medal run at Lake Placid.

As an aside, TigerBlog was always a bigger fan of essays and presentations rather than multiple choice or true/false questions. TB's attitude was that essays tested you on what you knew; the others tested you on what you didn't know.

One time, TB was in a junior seminar at Penn on labor history, a class taught by a professor named Walter Licht, who in subsequent years would cash in on knowing TB at an early age by getting free Penn/Princeton basketball tickets. Anyway, as part of the seminar, Professor Licht had each student choose a book and week to do a presentation on it. TigerBlog got to pick first after a lottery, and he chose Licht's book on railroad unionization and the first week.

Meanwhile, back at TBJ's project, TigerBlog was thinking about what he would do if he was in Billy Madison II and found himself back in middle school with the same assignment.

After no time, it became obvious to TB that his project would have to have something to do with Princeton athletics, assuming he took his current knowledge back to middle school with him.

So Princeton would be the subject, but what part of Princeton?

Would it be the first football game, the one between Princeton and Rutgers back in 1869? He could talk about how the Rutgers players challenged Princeton and how they played on back-to-back weekends, splitting the games. Nah.

Maybe it would be the history of women's athletics at Princeton. TigerBlog has always been fascinated by the earliest Princeton women athletes, who faced an inherent discrimination by the men's programs that by today's standards would be unthinkable. Maybe he could talk about some of the comments he's heard from some of those early women athletes, like the women's hockey player in the Class of 1975 who said that she was told women shouldn't play the sport because it would impact their ability to have children later on.

Or maybe he could write about the rise of the lacrosse dynasty at Princeton in the 1990s. Certainly it's a subject he knows a lot about.

Maybe the right topic would be a single team in a single season, such as the 1997 perfect season in men's lacrosse or John Thompson's first Princeton team in 2001 or the women's soccer team's run to the 2004 Final Four.

Or maybe about how Peter Farrell and Fred Samara started on the same day more than 30 years ago and still are here running the track-and-field programs.

Or one single game. Princeton-Dartmouth football in 1995. Princeton-Harvard women's soccer in 2004. Princeton-Harvard ECAC hockey final in 2008. Princeton-Trinity men's squash in 2009.

Or even one play. Out of the thousands he's seen. Off the top of his head, TB wouldn't even begin to try to think of that one play right now.

So many choices for a subject. And yet TB knows exactly what he would have done it on.

Princeton men's basketball, March 1996. Getting thumped by Penn in the regular-season finale. The win over Penn in the playoff on the night Pete Carril retired. The win over UCLA.

Yeah, that would definitely be it.

Or maybe the history of Yoo-Hoo.

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