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September 2016

3:33 Sports Short #56 // On Favorite Sports by Libby Kalmbach

“Chess boxing,” is what my brother Bob says without hesitation when asked what his favorite sport is. Chess boxing, for the uninitiated, is a hybrid competition in which two people alternate rounds of chess with rounds of boxing.

“Basketball,” is what I say if you ask me. Basketball, for the uninitiated, is a sport in which teams of five players compete against each other in trying to score the most points by launching a rubber ball through a hoop mounted about 10 feet off the ground.

Chess boxing was invented by Dutch performance artist Iepe Rubingh. I can’t say for sure that it’s the only sport invented by a performance artist, but it just might be.

Basketball was invented by Canadian medical doctor James Naismith. I don’t know whether it is the only sport invented by a medical doctor. It seems entirely possible that it is not.

Bob was not very interested in sports as a child.

3:33 Sports Short #55 // Mind Games by Amaris Ketcham

I started fencing about a year ago. In addition to learning a thousand and one new French vocabulary words, that is possible to avoid being immediately stabbed every single time I squat en guarde, I have learned some of the standard ways that fencers talk about the sport to non-fencers. The most common comparison they use? “Fencing is like a physical game of chess.”

Now, I admit that I don’t know much about chess, but I assume fencers mean both have a strategic and a tactical element. Strategy is about long-term thinking, setting up positions for certain advantages later. You can watch how someone plays and devise exactly how you’ll win when you play them next.

3:33 Sports Short #54 // Connections by Vandana Khanna

Thousands of miles away and 10 hours into a new day, my grandfather would call me, when his phone line was working, to talk McEnroe and Connors, Lendl and Amritraj. Tennis was the one of the few things a nine year old in America and a 60 year old in India had in common. We would watch the matches separated by oceans and time zones and continents, me on the small boxed TV in our cramped living room in Virginia, he on his first-ever color TV in Greater Kailash. Over the random static and echoed voices of a typical transatlantic phone call, we would talk shots and drama.

3:33 Sports Short #53 // The Last Shot by Ira Sukrungruang

The rain season in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Thunderclouds obstruct the northern mountains. It is as if they’ve disappeared from earth, and the ancient scholars were right: the world is flat. The wind picks up. Palms sway like dancing fingers. Litter scatters across tarred pavements. And though the city speaks in rumbles and horns, the wind roars over every sound. 

It’s a strange day to be at a driving range near the airport and mall, a busy district of Chiang Mai. The driving range is a hundred yards long; only wedges are allowed. An awning shelters us from the weather bubbling and boiling above.

Contributor Spotlight on Sharon Olds

by Danielle Pringle
Sharon Olds

I may have a mild obsession with the HBO series Game of Thrones. All right, maybe it’s more than mild, but I’m positive I’m not the only one. While I’m completely addicted to the show, cringe-worthy goriness and all, as a female viewer I was disappointed that for the longest time, it was a very one-sided love affair with the human body—eager to gaze upon the female body, naked and exposed, and leave the male parts safely out of view. Add to that the repeated violence, often sexual, done to female characters, and, well, it was hard to celebrate the show’s take on sex and the human body. My viewing group and I would lament this problematic and unequal portrayal in the show, so common in TV and Hollywood. However, change came in the latest season, when, near the end of May as summer dawned, the internet was abuzz with talk of the full-frontal male nudity scene.

3:33 Sports Short #52 // Two measures of 90 feet by Christine Pivovar

After front page photos in The Kansas City Star

1. October 29, 2014

Alex Gordon’s hands crossed atop a tar-smeared helmet. The once and future captain, held up and halted. Smudge of ruddy dirt on his right hip and above the letters over his scapula. Muscles taut in the neck, downturned in front of a wall of blue-clad faces. Cinderella on the front stoop with broken glass in her hands.

3:33 Sports Short #51 // First It Corrupts You Then It Claims To Have The Cure by Andrea Lewis

In my seat on the third base line I am surrounded by children. I want to save them but it’s too late. They’ve already seen the field. They’ve already watched the first inning and a half. Some are so far gone they’re keeping score. Is any of this my fault?

Say the runner on first takes off with the pitch. Is it my fault if this move alone creates a joy bordering on depravity? Say the hitter hits the ball behind the runner into right and the runner makes it all the way to third and depravity becomes a gulf of immorality. We were all innocent when we came through the turnstiles. 

But we organized our pain onto this green lawn. We squandered fine night air on suffering. We pushed children into wickedness. Now we want the runner to come home. We want the beauty that corrupted us to bring salvation. 

3:33 Sports Short #50 // Escape To Nonpareil by Susan Kay Anderson

“An Arabian will take care of its owner as no other horse will, for it has not only been raised to physical perfection, but has been instilled with a spirit of loyalty unparalleled by that of any other breed.”  American Arabian Association

Corine and I watched as Dad seemed to be dragged to death along our road, Nonpareil.  We stood on the damp pavement, Dad twisting while Nikkia reared, hoofing the sky above the camas. The heels of his black rubber boots dug into the soft, sloppy gravel, leaving tracks that waved back and forth like he was water skiing.  It almost looked fun.  There was a pain in my chest.  It was love.  Love for Nikkia.   Dad was not letting go of the rope.

3:33 Sports Short #49 // Haunted by Anne Penfield

His body is shot through with tension. He trains his ears on the woods. I look through his ears, through the bare branches and staggered trunks to see what he is sensing. A squirrel darts along the snow. His ears flicker, head lowers, and his breath clouds out. My knees are snugged into the saddle knee rolls. I shake my shoulders. I murmur something to him; his ear twitches in response. He is bold. When I accept this motion as part of my own, I too am bold. I press my heels to his side and tip forward into a gallop. Snow crunches underfoot. We are a glimmer through the dark trunks of the forest.

3:33 Sports Short #48 // After Ballet by Zoë McLaughlin

I feel weak right now, flabby and fat, truly a sack of potatoes like Mr. B. always threatened.  I don’t dance anymore, and when I do it’s wrong: I give myself a short barre, stepping off my bad leg as soon as it starts to complain; I slip back into the easy, languid movements of Javanese dance, tricking my muscles into doing something, tricking my body into thinking it’s strong.  I never do center combinations.  Somehow I’ve become this person who doesn’t dance anymore.  If I sit too long, I feel it.  If I eat too much, I feel it.