Mormons appear in the most interesting places… #3: The Blind Side

Thus began the great Mormon grade-grab. (214)

“The Mormons may be going to hell,” said Shawn.  “But they really are nice people.” (228)

I’m not much for sports reading, so it seems odd to me that of the three sports books I read in 2008, two would mentions Mormons.  (I blogged the other one here).

The Blind Side by Micheal Lewis is two books in one.  It’s a history of the left tackle position in the game of American Football, and it’s also the story of MichaelOher, and inner city high school student (who, at first glance, fits many of the stereotypes: black, one of thirteen kids to a single mom who takes drugs, barely attends school, obsessed with basketball, etc. ) who, through a series of interesting events, is admitted to an exclusive (and nearly all-white) private Christian school, is taken in by a rich white family, and turns out to be one of the most heavily recruited high school football players in the nation.

It’s a fascinating book, sure to inspire as many people as it offends (as it deals with many touchy issues of race and class).

The quotes about Mormons appear at a point where Michael needs to improve his grades so he can be admitted to college.  To raise his grade point average, he takes several correspondence courses from BYU, called “character courses” that are treated as the equivalent of high school classes.  He does well enough that he raises his GPA to the minimum needed to play football in college.

I’ve never taken a correspondence course through BYU, so I have no idea what the “character courses” entail.  The book implies that these are softball courses and something of a scam – only a step above a diploma mill.  A nice way to get some easy A grades.  I really don’t know enough to make a judgment on that.  However, I thought this was interesting enough that M* readers would appreciate it.

So – whether you’ve read the book or not:  any thoughts?

This entry was posted in Any, Biography, In real life, Sports by Ivan Wolfe. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ivan Wolfe

Ivan Wolfe teaches rhetoric at Arizona State University. He has a PhD in English from the University of Texas - Austin, and a BA and MA in English (with minors in Classical Greek, Music, and Philosophy) from BYU. He has several credits on various Christmas albums aimed at the LDS market, several essays in Open Court's Popular Culture and Philosophy series, and various book reviews in academic and popular venues. He also competes in Scottish Highland Games and mud run/obstacle course races, and he can deadlit over double his bodyweight (his last PR was just shy of 500 pounds). He is currently married to Lisa Renee Wolfe. He has five kids and four stepkids.

8 thoughts on “Mormons appear in the most interesting places… #3: The Blind Side

  1. I’ve never done correspondence classes from BYU either, so I cannot comment on the ease of the classes. Interesting that he choose BYU for correspondence classes. One would hope he gained some character despite the ease of the classes.

  2. I think they are courses from the Independent Study department that can apply towards a GRE type of thing. If so then they aren’t joke classes. (Well no more than freshmen GE classes are in general)

  3. Those lines were quoted in George Will’s review of the book in the New York Times back in November 2006–thanks to a search of the archives.

    I thought they sounded familiar.

    Given the apparent academic abilities of the Mr. Oher, I can’t imagine that the courses are very rigorous. And, if, as I read or heard somewhere, they’ve become the pathway of choice for wannabe college athletes to make up for a bunch of failures in real school, what’s the chance that the classes are demanding?

    I’m guessing not much.

    Way to go, BYU! Make us proud.

  4. BYU’s online correspondence classes are well-known in the world of “needing to make grades in order to play college football,” not only due to their easy access but also their reputation as being easy to pass.

    His description is quite apt and accurate.

  5. The Burner significant other used BYU high school classes to graduate early so they could go to college (out of state and away from parents)

    It’s a very good idea, especially for pesky PE credits and the like

  6. I took BYU correspondence course in High School because of a car accident and an inability to sit in classes – and they were probably harder than my regular classes. I’m sure just like any high school, there are some classes that are harder than others. The difference between taking taking them at school and through correspondence is that he could probably take more classes than he would’ve been able to otherwise been able to.

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