English Professor Jim Gorman is a Cardinal ‘super fan’
By Matt Soppelsa ’14
While Professor of English Jim Gorman may not be painting himself Cardinal red for all Otterbein sporting events, he attends almost every home game the school has to offer. When the weather is right, you can often see him riding his bike to a game.
Athletic events wouldn’t be the same without fans in the stands cheering on their favorite teams and athletes. “Super fans” incorporate their love of their teams into every aspect of their lives. At Otterbein, Gorman is the quintessential super fan.
He grew up around sports and it has always been a big part of his life. “I’ve always been a sports junkie. It’s in my DNA,” said Gorman. “My father raised us on sports. I played basketball and baseball as a kid. We grew up in eastern New York in reach of the radio station for the Boston Red Sox. I idolized Ted Williams.”
Gorman’s first passion has always been his writing — especially fiction, sports writing and journalism. Gorman joined the Otterbein faculty in 1979 as a journalism professor and later transferred to the Department of English. He now serves as director of creative writing and brings new life to many subjects outside of English through his Integrative Studies (I.S.) courses.
“The most important part of creating an I.S. class is finding a topic and class name that will grab students’ attention,” said Gorman.
With this attitude, Gorman has been the teacher of several popular I.S. classes. Using topics he thought students would be drawn to, Gorman developed the Sex and Love class, which frequently had waiting lists of students wanting to enroll. He took inspiration from his love of sports for one of his more recent classes, How Sports Explain Us.
The course started with two classes with 25 students in each. “The class drew in a large amount of athletes,” said Gorman. “Having so many athletes in class made for very rich conversations about sports in society. Nowadays these kids have been playing their respective sport since elementary school and grew up having it has a center in their lives.”
Gorman drew the idea for the class out of a book he had read titled, How Soccer Explains the World. The book discussed how the sport of soccer, although competitive, often brings the world together and compares how different countries view the sport. Gorman applied this base to a wider variety of sports and from there the class was formed.
“I have always liked to find subjects or events or cultures that reveals who we are — a subject behind the headlines,” said Gorman.
Gorman uses his own wife and daughter as a case study in How Sports Explains Us. His class looks at how, when his wife was in school, there were no athletics for girls. He compares that to the opportunities available now and how being involved in sports has positively impacted his daughter’s social life, helping her bond with friends.
“The class shows how youth sports have changed in society, and how pro sports value money and economics rather than the artistry. (Athletic success) is no longer measured by talent, but by pay,” said Gorman.
When he’s not in the classroom, Gorman can be found in the stands at most of Otterbein’s athletic events. Living so close to the university’s sports facilities gives him a chance to view every event a sports junkie could want. In 2003, Gorman was chosen to be the faculty representative to the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) for Otterbein. Soon after, he was elected to be president of the OAC, and is now recognized as a past president.
“It was mostly a ceremonial position,” said Gorman. “It was run by the commissioner, Tim Gleason, and there are 30 people in the conference. The president presides over the meetings. We mostly made calls about rain delays and on the championship.”
Gorman supports student super fans, too. At Otterbein, those students are members of the Red Zone, a group known for its contagious energy at sporting events. Whether members are painted red from head to toe or creating their own chants for the fans, the Red Zone often inspires Cardinal Pride in the stands. For his part, Gorman encourages athletes from off-season teams to support on-season teams as members of the Red Zone.
“If the crowd is rowdy and excited then it will get the team in the mindset to win,” said Gorman. “I think that numbers in the stands will increase with the new coaches. They seem to have their ducks in a row and are good recruiters.”
In his time at Otterbein, Gorman has made an impact in many fields. From being one of the school’s biggest fans, to teaching a variety of popular classes to being a key representative with the OAC, Gorman is a winner on and off the field.