The Old College Try

Something jogged my memory the other day, and I was reminded of a story from thirty years ago that I’m sure you’ll really enjoy.  It’s from my book, Life’s A Joke, which can be purchased on this website for a mere ten dollars (I’ll pick up the postage charge).  Maybe you can relate.

At Western Carolina, back in the late ’70s, we were a school with a really small budget, not only in athletics but the entire university.  As a matter of fact, the bowling alley had four lanes and did not have electric pin spotters!  Half the class would bowl while the other half would be resetting pins.

Bobby Pate, one of the assistant football coaches and an absolutely great guy, was one of the bowling instructors.  The basketball offices were in the same building as the bowling alleys, so occasionally Bobby would come in before or after his class.

One day at the end of the semester, Bobby came in and I could tell something was bothering him.  I said, “Bobby, what’s the matter?”

He replied, “Jack, do you remember that girl I told you about in the class who was an absolutely horrible bowler?”

“Oh yeah,” I said.  “That’s the girl you said knocked down about two pins the whole semester.”

He said, “Yeah, she was terrible at bowling, but on all the written tests, she aced ‘em.”

“So, what’s the problem with that?”  I saw he was still upset so I added, “some people are more gifted academically than athletically.”

He looked up and said, “Well, there’s really no problem, but when I recorded her grade, I felt like I did her a favor because while she was perfect on every test, every ball but one she threw went into the gutter.  So … I gave her a B.”

I stared at him like he was crazy.  “Bobby, what’s wrong with that?  You were more than fair.”

“Yeah, but I feel awful,” he said, turning kinda melancholy on me.  I was starting to wonder if he was manic depressive – until he finished the story.  “She didn’t tell me this, but I found out from another kid in the class that this girl’s a senior and is graduating next week.  That’s the only B she’s had here at Western in four years.  My bowling class kept her from a perfect 4.0 GPA.  Years from now, when she’s highly successful, somebody’s going to ask her what her grade point average was in college and she’s going to say, ‘I missed a perfect 4.0 by one grade.  I got a B in bowling,’ and the person’s going to ask, ‘What idiot gave you that grade?'” 

I tried to make him feel better by saying, “Aw, Bobby, don’t worry about it.  She’ll get over it.”

He turned and left the office, saying, “I ain’t worried about her.  I’m worried about me!”

Had I known of the famous Johann von Goethe’s line back then, I would have told it to Bobby:

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply.  Willing is not enough, we must do.”

One Response to “The Old College Try”

  1. John Tasher Says:

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