Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Creativity Exercise 4 (The Springfield Paper, a football stadium, observational learning)

Object: The Springfield Paper (A weekly paper published in Springfield, Ohio and Clark County, Ohio)
Place: Pittodrie Stadium (A football stadium located in Aberdeen, Scotland)
Other: Observational Learning

It is well known that an employee must always rise to his level of incompetence and so it was with the editor of the Springfield Paper, one of those men who chomped on a cigarette while giving order and trying to smack the secretaries ass. I remember well him first explaining this hair brained plan to me. See, he was a great believer in sports stories for some reason. I always felt like a town the size of ours really didn't worry to much about that sort of thing. Besides the local high school we didn't really have a sports team and most people got on fine without one. But at the time he was full of new ideas and this was one of them. Cover an international sports event, he said. Cover football. Everyone loves football. This is America, and in America we love our football. And then he'd continued on with some patriotic idiocy that made me feel like he'd taken leave of his senses.

And so I ended up in Aberdeen, sitting in the stadium watching a soccer game. I suppose nobody ever told my boss they don't play football in Scotland, and he just assumed that if the game was called football then it was American football. I sighed. I didn't watch much soccer and had only the vaguest notion of what was going on. Besides, it was raining, and cold, and who in there right mind wanted to watch a bunch of grown men chase a checkered ball around a field. Oh, and reporting. Lets not forget about the reporting.

The reporting pretty much consisted of writing down goals and trying to learn what the hell was going on. Which I was rather unsuccessful at, I will admit. I understood the whole teams try to score goals bit, but many of the fouls seemed rather unnecessary to me. I left the stadium feeling considerably confused.

I wrote my report on the flight back, and it was on the editors desk first thing in the morning. He called me in later in the day. "Will," he said, "I can't publish this drivel. Your supposed to be the crack sports reporter. But you haven't even recorded how much yardage everyone ran. Or how many touchdowns were made." He gave a snort. "Queer sort of reporting you've done. For instance, how could the score possibly be 3-1. Were there no touchdowns at all? Are the Scottish such pansies that they can't get touchdowns or did you just screw it up? Well?"

He gave me the "I'm the boss and you'd better fucking explain if you still want a job" look. I was speechless. Of course there were no touchdowns. It was a game of soccer. So I said so. "Will," the editor said, "I want no truck with soccer. A game for ladies and little boys. I sent you to watch a football game." So I tried again. I tried to convince him that football and soccer were the same game in Scotland. "But Will," he said, "Then what do they call football there? This stories got more holes in it then that smelly French cheese. Write it properly you idiot. Clearly you went to the wrong field or something. Dumbass."

I was speechless. He shoved my article back on me and shook his head. "Should never have sent you in the first place. What do you know about international reporting anyways? Should have gone mmyself." He shook his head sadly. "And such an expense to the paper to, sending you all that way for nothing. You had best revise that article, and revise it now." He pushed me out of his office and slammed the door.

About a week later, the Springfield Paper published an article about a football game in Scotland. There running back had apparently played very well and both teams had scored several touchdowns. There was also, rather curiously, a rather high number of penalties in the game. But everyone in town thought it was one of the most interesting articles the paper had published in a long time. They especially liked the part where it was pointed out that any American football team could have easily beaten the Scottish at a game of football.

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