Intellectuals do actually score

Michael McLaughlin

First, a quick heads-up to my usual readers. Yes, all eight of you. This isn’t going to be the usual article about politics or foreign affairs. Instead, this column is going to be regarding something in which I have a bit more of a personal interest: the Kent State College Bowl team.

Ever since my childhood way back in the ancient times of the early ’90s, I’ve had a bit of gift. No, not one of those “important” ones like those people you see on television stating that they know what the future holds or how to clean up in the stock market. Instead, I have the innate ability to remember all sorts of random crap. For example, the Prime Minister of Canada who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 (Lester Pearson).

I believed that there was no place to show off this … umm … talent. Of course, I played on my high school academic team and was a rather good player, but after my final game in June 2002, I figured my ability to gain a vague, small amount of fame was past its expiration date, as I was either too odd or not odd enough to get on “Jeopardy.” Then, during my first semester on campus, I discovered the College Bowl team.

Contrary to popular myth, not everyone at one of these tournaments is an eccentric nerd with a low sense of hygiene. Of course, I am an eccentric nerd with a low sense of hygiene, but that’s not the point. The best way to describe one of these events is basketball for intellectuals or, as the rest of the world knows them, dorks.

The back and forth of a game can often resemble the best Loyola Marymount basketball game, and the intensity between two teams in a regional final is as close as those of us without athletic ability will get to experiencing the pressure of trying to win an NCAA game in the last couple of seconds. Although, to be fair, seeing as the crowd at a College Bowl match usually numbers in single digits, it probably doesn’t come all that close.

Still, what other college activity is there in which one can achieve victory not by hitting the weight room or running sprints but instead simply through absorbing material both in class and in one’s personal reading?

Of course, unless you happen to be Ken Jennings, the College Bowl experience doesn’t really pay off in the future (at least in terms of money), but to sound a bit on the clich‚d side, the camaraderie that is forged in both the heat of battle (if nerdy guys hitting buttons and yelling out random factoids can be considered battle) and in traveling in a small van to the latest regional tournament is, in my humble opinion, worth a considerable sum.

If this actually sounds like something you might be interested in doing next year, fire off an e-mail to me at the address at the bottom of this column, and I’ll get back to you with information. And if not, the incisive, or at least obtuse, political commentary will be back next week.

Mike McLaughlin is a senior history major, captain of the Kent State College Bowl team and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].