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Reflections on Pacquiao ruling

Publication Date : 25-06-2012

 

For a couple years, my department chair has been pushing composition instructors to occasionally exchange exams or homework assignments, and to offer sample grades on the work of one another's students. We've been free in the end to make final decisions on our students' grades, but the idea, you see, has been to introduce a new pair of eyes and another mind to gently challenge our personal systems of evaluation.

I fought the idea in the beginning. Why should I pay any mind to my colleagues' views on my grading? Students were not complaining about my scores on assignments or my grades for courses, so why waste time worrying? Pardon that sensible cliche but, come on, if something's not broken, why fix it?

I have come to find it however rather educative to compare the scores of my colleagues with my own scores for my students' work. To do so once or twice a semester in writing courses, and then to talk with colleagues and students alike about the apparent similarities and differences has been worthwhile.

Almost always we had the same thoughts, my colleagues and I, more or less the same standards. Our scoring unveiled few gaps or worries. The process was however for me interesting and even illuminating.

As I penciled in a suggested grade on mid-term composition exams some months ago, for example, I was acutely aware that another person would be matching a score with the number I was using to rate a writer's performance. Later we would sit and discuss why we scored as we did. We'd listen to each other, weigh our reasons, and engage in some self-reflection.

Strange as it may sound, I am visiting this question of occasional peer counseling in the Department of Grades because of a boxing match.

I sat beside a Filipino friend at a meal shortly after boxer Timothy Bradley had beaten Manny Pacquiao in a 12 round split decision in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. I expressed wonderment that someone had managed to beat the boxing legend. The June 9 fight ended a 15 match victory streak for the man known as "The Pacman". He hadn't lost a fight since 2005, when Erik Morales overpowered him in a unanimous decision.

My friend quickly said, “The judges were split, but the crowd was unanimous. People there disagreed with the judges. Pacquiao won the fight.”

Now we know my friend was right. Something ran amuck.

This week, the World Boxing Organisation (WBO), after an official review of the bout, with the help of five judges, declared Pacquiao the victor in Las Vegas. I must be pretty naive. I did not expect the review judges to differ so markedly from their peers in Nevada. The tale of the points, all in favor of Pacquiao, is as clear as the gin in a martini glass: 118-110, 117-111, 117-111, 116-112, 115-113.

The WBO board was quick to say it could not undo the decision of the judges in Las Vegas. The official fight result stands with Bradley as the winner. The board was simply saying that in its opinion, Pacquiao had won, and won convincingly.

Some of the most enjoyable research I've ever done for a column, if “research” is the word for it, was the “work” I put into watching a fight between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Sotto back in November of 2009. I told myself at 11 o'clock last night that I needed to study that fight another time, the better to comment on Pacquiao today. My eyes are still red-rimmed, but I'll not whine about it.

Now, I wouldn't be surprised if this column today strikes some as oddly assembled. My logic probably is a tad bizarre. I obviously ignored the old saw about trying to compare apples and oranges.

Still, the idea of allowing ourselves to be open to criticism is in itself a worthy topic to consider in our lives, both professionally and personally.

To realise that others may not view a situation the way we do — and that can be uncomfortable — just may open windows for greater self-understanding. Judges in Nevada score a tough 12 rounder one way, and a review board scores the same fight in a stunningly different way. Does it occur to you, as it does to me, that there is something here worth thinking about?

Father Daniel J. Bauer SVD is a priest and associate professor in the English Department at Fu Jen Catholic University.

 

 

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