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In honor of the University of Michigan football team's impressive victory over Ohio State this past weekend, we thought we'd put together a rivalry-themed edition of Good Sentences. 


—The Good Sentences Team
1. Essay: The Oxford Versus Cambridge Gloat Race by Paul Bloomfield (2010)

Favorite Sentence: "While they have both just celebrated 800 years of scholarly study, the key attribute Oxford and Cambridge universities share is a fierce pride—and a powerful urge to put one over on their rival."

—Picked by Halle Alitz, Class of 2023 (Biggest rival as a rower at the University of Miami: Louisville University)

2. Fiction: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbachn (2011)

Favorite Sentence: "Then, at last, he came home, after what might have been one week but which felt like a hundred, emaciated and so filthy that some of it never quite seemed to wash off his skin."

—Picked by Michael Alescio, Class of 2023 (Biggest rival as a baseball player at Seton Hall University: St. John's University)  

3. Poetry: Fast Break by Edward Hirsch (1985)

Favorite Lines: "scissoring past a flat-footed defender
                          who looks stunned and nailed to the floor
                          in the wrong direction"

—Picked by Courtney Martin, Class of 2023 (Biggest rival as a basketball player at Marquette University: the University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Michigan Sentences: Here's an article about a set of 100-year old letters recently discovered by a New York Times reporter in the Michigan athletic archives.
Syllabus Sentences: Here are some materials about a famous game in the Harvard-Yale rivalry that I give students to show them that clever uses of language can be used to reframe events.

Book Recommendations
  • For good sentences about the racing rivalry between Ford and Ferrari
  • For good sentences about the tennis rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal 
  • For good sentences about the basketball rivalry between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson
Notes on Nuance:
Note how intentionally leaving out a conjunction such as "and" gives a sentence a nice, rhythmic ending. (The technical term for this move is "asyndeton.")

"As the United States Open begins Monday, both [Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova] remind us to see the big picture, to acknowledge our colleagues and even our competitors, to tap our racket over somebody else’s shot, to respect the other, whatever the other may be."

—George Vecsey, "The Best of Rivals and Best of Friends, Then and Always" (2010)
Additional Resources
Online Courses

Good with Words: Speaking and Presenting
Good with Words: Writing and Editing

Good with Words: Speaking and Presenting
Good with Words: Writing and Editing  
Notes on Nuance
Punctuation and Persuasion                                                     
The Syntax of Sports: Class 1 
The Syntax of Sports: Class 2
The Syntax of Sports: Class 3 
The Syntax of Sports: Class 4
Rivalry Rankings
Best World Cup Rivalries by ESPN (2018)
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