Originally published November 7, 2014
October 23, 2014: The Minor in Professional Writing’s Grammar Smackdown introduced the savagery of professional wrestling with the finer points of the English language to eighty first-year students in the Humanities Scholars Program. This annual event is a fast-paced competition that tests students’ knowledge of English punctuation, spelling, grammar, syntax, and style and was developed by Deborah Gump of Ohio University and Ron Hartung, Associate Editor of the Tallahassee Democrat.
This year’s event was held during the Humanities scholars’ required first-year seminar. Students had trained for the event by hitting the gym doing stylebook bench presses, grammar curls, and dictionary cardio.
Ph.D. student Tiffany Salter, in Hulk Hogan fashion, guided the competition. Event judges included Debra Moddelmog, Jonathan Buehl, Trish Houston, and Ben Fortman, the program manager of the Humanities Scholars.
The Smackdown proceeded with two rounds of competition: a qualifying and a Smackdown round. In the qualifying round, teams answered eight questions against a ticking clock, ran their responses to the judges, and the four teams with the most correct answers moved on to the next round. The intense, final Smackdown round asked five more challenging questions and was dependent upon the speed of each team’s selected runner. The runner was responsible for retrieving the question from the judges, taking it to his or her team where they answered the question, and running it back to the judges—all as quickly as possible.
Trish Houston notes, “The teams learned that speed doesn’t always win out. In fact, neither of the two winning teams were the fastest, but they were the most accurate.” The winning teams earned a tin of Cheryl’s cookies and the ultimate respect from the Hulkster.
—Loretta Mioranza, Professional Writing Minor Intern