Diane Roberts Discusses Paradoxes in Football

Nicole Thomas

Diane Roberts Discusses Paradoxes in Football

According to Piedmont College’s website, “Lilian Eugenia Smith was born in Jasper, Florida in 1897.”  She wrote nonfiction, essays and articles in which she advocated for “social justice and racial equality.”  Like Lilian Smith, Diane Roberts is from Florida and is a writer.  She teaches at FSU and writes for different magazines and newspapers.  However, Diane Roberts doesn’t enjoy writing for newspapers and magazines as much as writing books, because she’s limited in her writing.  Roberts spoke to creative writing students on March 29, talking about college football and paradoxes.

Diane Roberts discussed how there were a lot of problems in football, yet she was “obsessed” with it.  Problems with football existed from the very beginning, including injuries such as concussions and neck problems. There’s a lot of contradiction and tribalism in football, and people should write about it.

“Georgia fans would throw rocks at Georgia Tech players,” she said, adding that years ago Georgia fans in Athens followed the Georgia Tech players to the bus while throwing stuff at them.  “We have our tribes we belong to, like religion, demographic.”

Diane Roberts later wrote a book about Florida and refers to Florida as being “weird.”  “I took this thing that was very familiar and tried to get people to see how odd it was, and that’s what you do when you’re writing nonfiction.  With nonfiction, you have to see the strangeness that’s already there and it is there.”

Roberts said tribalism could be “from village to village.”  People in one village might think that the other one is weird.  “Hawkins writes a lot about that.  Even though Village A is exactly like Village B, they just don’t want to see it that way.  It might be religious, political, or ethnic.”

She also says how the south has a lot of people in one area, so there’s more diversity there.  People ask others where they are from and they judge them if they’re not born in that area.  “Places that are weird like this are rich and a gift.  I can’t think of a better place for a writer to live then the south.  I’m sure any place that a writer lives a writer will find it interesting.”

Diane Roberts’ speech elicited different emotions from the students who attended.  Nathan Blackburn said, “I really enjoyed her speech, she was really honest with her answers to any questions that were asked, and I could tell that she genuinely wanted to be there with us.  I also really liked how she talked about both creative writing and journalism in the same speech, and when she talked about how more funding and money should be put into college students’ education.”

Page Dukes said, “I thought the speech was very insightful.  I had never thought too much about football and how it reinforces cultural norms.  But I was a little concerned that we didn’t talk more about how to resolve the cultural problems and paradoxes she mentioned.  She seemed to leave it up to us as the younger generation to find solutions.”

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