The day after the Super Bowl, I read in our local newspaper that the Naval Academy ordered 4,500 pizzas for its 4,000 Midshipmen on Super Bowl Sunday—3,000 from Papa John’s and another 1,500 from Ledo’s. Massive! Then it turned out that Papa John’s provided no less than 25,000 pizzas to football lovers across Anne Arundel County between 5 and 7 p.m. Huge! 5,000 pounds of cheese, 500 pounds of pepperoni, 120 pounds of sausage, and 120 gallons of sauce at just one of the Papa John’s outlets alone. (Where were the spinach, onions, and mushrooms?)
But those numbers were peanuts. Nationwide, Domino’s dished out 11,000,000 slices that day, and Pizza Hut served up 442 miles of pizza containing some 14 billion pieces of pepperoni.
And all for 51 lopsided points on the scoreboard.
Then I got to thinking about St. John’s College, where the most awaited annual ritual is the party for seniors hosted at the President’s House on the first weekend in February. The price of admission: four copies of a Senior Essay, the students’ capstone project, on which each of them will be publicly examined during his or her last semester at the College. This year, the papers handed in that night had titles such as the following:
The Poet as Hero in “The Waste Land”
Together They Go Astray: The Family of Anna Karenina and Alexei Vronsky in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina
The Security of Liberty: An Examination of American Identity in the American Founding Documents
Finding Home: Man’s Journey in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony
Nature’s “One Long Argument”: On the Role of Man’s Ignorance in Charles Darwin’s Origin
Achilles and the Devastation of Learning
Revenge and the Permanence of Tragedy in The Virgin Spring
Intuition and Intellection: A Theory of Parallels
Jesus and Jurisprudence: Love as the Fulfillment of the Law of Moses
Harmonizing Souls: An Examination of The Souls of Black Folks
S/He Had It Coming: A Murder but Not a Crime? Seeing Justice Done in Aeschylus’s Oresteia
Number of essays handed in: 105 x 4 = 420. Number of pages in total: more than 20,000. Number of pieces of sushi consumed: 400. Avocados mashed for guacamole: 24. Number of ham and cheese rolls: 500. Pounds of Hummus: 10. Chick peas, tahini, flatbread, and chips: countless. Liquid refreshments consumed: no more and no less than at any Super Bowl Party.
I love these numbers. They show that our students are just as fired up about taking in sustenance for their souls as for their bodies.
On top of that, the entire student body put up some pretty impressive numbers on Super Bowl Weekend, preparing for their Monday-night seminars:
Freshmen: Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics
Books 8 and 9 (1155a1-1172a15)
60 pages x 121 students = 7,260 pages
Sophomores: Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica
2nd Part of the 2nd Part, Questions 1, 2, 4
50 pages x 100 students = 5,000 pages
Juniors: Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason
Transcendental Deduction B (B130-169)
30 pages x 101 students = 3,030 pages
Seniors: Melville’s Benito Cereno
100 pages x 109 students = 10,900 pages
Total number of pages read on Super Bowl Weekend = 26,190
Now double that total to account for our students on our Santa Fe campus! Placed end to end, those pages = 48,015 feet (11 inch page) = 9.09375 miles of Great pages read on Super Bowl Weekend.
All this in the pursuit of learning on the path to some 200 bachelor’s degrees to be awarded in Annapolis and Santa Fe this spring on another Super Sunday!
I just love numbers!
Christopher B. Nelson is president of St. John’s College in Annapolis, and an outspoken champion of the liberal arts. St. John’s College, with campuses in Annapolis, Maryland, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, is an independent, four-year college that is devoted to liberal education. Its richly varied curriculum focuses on an integrated study of philosophy, literature, history, theology, political science, mathematics, music, and science. Students and faculty engage directly—not through textbooks and lectures but through study and discussion—with original texts and ideas that are at the foundations of Western thought. www.sjc.edu