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It's all about time management.
If you happened to watch all four NFL playoff games this past weekend, you spent about 15 hours parked in front of the tube.
During the regular season, on any given Sunday, you might start off with the pre-game show and end it with the nightcap, which usually finished around 11 p.m. That's nearly half a day on the sofa.
I'm not here to say whether that is a good use of your time. That's for you to decide.
I do know, however, that you can compress all of that vertical time into a one hour jam-packed summary show on ESPN. That show, which runs on Sunday evenings, gives all of the day's results while showing all of its key plays.
Think of it as the CliffsNotes of pro football.
CliffsNotes, of course, are those little yellow pamphlets that summarize the works of great literature into a couple dozen pages. Over the years, students have found them to be invaluable. They are certainly not the same as experiencing the depth and richness of beautiful literature.
They do have a purpose, however. I recall one situation where CliffsNotes would have saved my bacon.
In my senior year of high school, I took an English Literature course. Each month, we'd be tasked with reading three books. At the end of the month, we were tested.
One month, the three books were Dickens's "A Tale of Two Cities," Melville's "Redburn," and "Heart of Darkness," by Joseph Conrad.
I remember that I zipped through those first two titles, actually enjoying the reads.
"Heart of Darkness," however, was a whole 'nother can of worms. Dense and indecipherable, I spent several late nights plowing through it.
At the end, I hadn't a clue as to what I'd read. Sure enough, when test time came, my single essay was to be written in response to something along the following: "Describe the use of metaphor and analogy in Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness.' You may refer to the book and any of your notes in writing your response.
Knowing I was fairly well doomed, I tried to craft a response as best I could. I believe it looked something like this:
In order to describe the use of metaphor and analogy in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, one must have done a deep read of the book.
Having done so, I feel that I am in a superb position to address this area. Certainly, when the good people at Penguin Paperback Books published the tome (and in 1971, no less), they certainly felt that analogy and metaphor would certainly help its sales, despite a list price of $4.75.
The question, of course, boils down to this: Is it the heart that is dark or is it the darkness that has a heart? Having pored over this book during the previous month, I often pondered that very issue.
Conrad certainly meant to explore such questions when metaphorically and allegorically posing them. Our challenge, of course, is to answer them.
(This went on for several pages.)
Which brings us back to the original question. It is obvious that the use of metaphor and analogy...RAN OUT OF TIME!!!
I'm fairly certain that I earned a D- on that particular essay. That was punishment for making my English Lit teacher read several pages of tripe. The wiser option would have been to write: I read this book. I didn't get it. I throw myself on your mercy.
This same logic can be used when deciding whether to watch all of that football, or to watch the highlight show.
Should you watch 12 hours of football, you're going to have a better grasp of the nuances of the games you viewed: You can speak with authority at the water cooler. That, of course, makes the assumption that you understand the game better than I understood "Heart of Darkness."
Should you opt for the CliffsNotes version (i.e. the one-hour ESPN show) of the games, you can get by just enough. You'll not be the oddball who knows not a whit about what transpired on Sundays.
Just don't use that general knowledge to try and impress anyone. And that includes English Lit teachers.