Announcing the Second ‘Annual’ White Elephant Essay Contest

cain vs bigfootWelcome to the second installment of the Co-Main Event Podcast’s sort-of annual White Elephant Essay Contest. OK, fine, there’s actually nothing annual about it, since the last time we did it was 2012, but whatever. If you’re reading this, you’re probably more interested in winning yourself a fabulous prize pack than any pesky little “details” so let’s all just be cool and forge ahead, yeah?

The concept is fairly simple: Below you will find two essay prompts. Pick the one you like best and compose a formal essay of between 500-1,000 words, spellcheck it, make sure it conforms to our submission guidelines and then email it to us just as you would one of the rambling, often impenetrable queries you routinely submit for our weekly Listener Mail segment.

The grand prize winner will receive a fabulous original woodcut by MMA artist Chris Rini (follow this man: @RiniMMA), depicting heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez beating the stuffing out of Bigfoot Silva (see above? Yep, that’s it. It’s dope). Other entrants of an as-yet indeterminable number will receive runners-up prizes from the “personal collections” of Chad Dundas and Ben Fowlkes.

We can also almost guarantee that, once again, at least one entrant will receive a Baskin & Robins gift card. Don’t you want that person to be you? Of course you do.

The grand prize winner will additionally have the extreme honor of getting their essay published here at Cool, right? Maybe we’ll even publish some of the runners-up, too. That part is kind of on you and the quality of work that you produce.

All entries must be received by midnight (mountain time, naturally) on Tuesday, May 20, 2014. That means you have three full weeks to get this shit done. Only one entry per listener, please.

Below, you will find the prompts as well as more specific instructions for our submission guidelines. Read them. Read. Them. After doing so, if you find you still have questions, email them to us. We’ll do our best to guide you.

The Prompts

Respond to one of the following prompts with a five paragraph essay between 500-1,000 words.

1) The Persuasive Essay (a.k.a Not Just Saying Stuff): In today’s landscape, what do you believe is the biggest threat to the overall health of mixed martial arts and how can it be overcome? Using the formidable powers of your own reasoning and argumentation, pinpoint the single most perilous hazard currently afflicting the MMA industry. Explain it, explain why you view it as the most serious threat to our sport and explain how to solve it. Cite some credible outside sources. Bonus points awarded for uniqueness of argument and overall persuasiveness.

2) The Narrative Essay: So, you want to be a fucking MMA fan, huh? Why? Seriously, dude, why? Discuss your own journey into our strange niche corner of the sports world. How did you get here? Why does this sport speak to you? What do you like/dislike about it? Why did you choose to get totally hyped about MMA rather than, say, hurling? Just how big of a superfan are you? Do you consider yourself to be the “typical” MMA fan? Why or why not? Don’t forget to cite credible outside sources. Bonus points awarded for style and the ability to make your personal story compelling to a broad audience.

Formatting Guidelines

1. To make it easy on everyone, paste your essay in the body of an email and submit it that way. As you know, the email address is We won’t be fucking around with attachments, so essays submitted as such won’t be reviewed. Make the subject line on your email read: Essay Contest.

2. First things first: Put your name, address and a return email address at the top of your email, so we can get in touch with you when you win. Also slug your essay with the words “persuasive essay” or “narrative essay” so we’ll know which prompt you’re going after.

3. Give your essay a cool title, obviously.

4. Since this is a five-paragraph essay contest, make sure your essay is in five paragraphs, including an introduction boasting a rad thesis statement, three body paragraphs and a conclusion that leaves no room to question your argument.

5. Remember, we said between 500-1,000 words. Don’t go under. Don’t go (much) over.

6. Yes, spelling, grammar and punctuation count.

7. Include a properly formatted bibliography listing a minimum of three sources. Be advised, failure to properly cite and credit sources can constitute the serious academic crime of plagiarism and can result in severe sanctions according to the student conduct code.

8. Is that it? That’s it. If we left anything out, email us your questions.

9. Thanks for your continued support of the Co-Main Event Podcast.

10. Our panel of judges may or may not include the world’s leading theatricalist, Sir Nigel Longstock, so keep that in mind as well.


  1. Hi
    Just a few question about the Essay Contest rules:
    1 – Is one allowed to enter one essay per prompt?
    2 – Is there any “allowance” for lingual fuck-ups for non-native English writers?
    3 – Is there any point in trying to bride any of the judges with hard cold cash and/or empty promises?
    and finally: would you mind asking Sir Nigel’s poor ass about hoe much he charges to be commissioned as a ghost-writer for a Essay Contest entry?

  2. James in Detroit says:

    Bibliography… oh how i hate that word.

  3. For the bibliography, will a standard MLA works cited page be ok?

  4. About these “prizes”…there wouldn’t happen to be a Total Combined Weight shirt somewhere in there, would there?

  5. Not sure why a bibliography would be needed for the narrative essay?

    Let’s say I go for a “story” on how I got into MMA, what are the kind of sources you are looking for? Any example?

    • Using outside sources can improve most any nonfiction writing. As a rule, you want to cite some quality, credible information in anything you write. As it relates to this narrative essay, you could cite some statistics, cite someone who wrote something cool about a fight that changed your life, cite someone writing negatively about MMA and explain why it’s BS. There’s no shortage of opportunities to cite outside sources in this kind of narrative essay.

      Also, because it’s the rules.

      • I agree with Mathbl, I don’t see how citing opinion pieces or statistics would improve a story on how I became an MMA fan. I believe most fans were mostly influenced by the fights themselves and not by something written (or perhaps that is just me).

        That is not to say I don’t like the instructions in general, they look something akin to those my university professor would write, very precise. I was hoping to take part in the contest, but I cannot think of a way I would naturally use outside sources for my writing in this instance. I have never read a piece of writing on MMA that has affected me strongly one way or the other, but I believe this is where I’m not in the target group for the contest.

        No worries, though. I will be keenly following and hopefully reading some quality essays with properly cited (!) sources in the near future.

        • I hear what you’re saying, Lauri, but here’s an example of what I’m talking about, to show it’s actually not that hard.

          Let’s say in my essay I wanted to write about Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell at UFC 43 as being an important fight in shaping my love of MMA (which is true). Just Google the fight and a bunch of stories about it pop up. Here’s a good one I could use as a source:

          And here’s the quote I would use in my essay:

          “It seemed like a showcase match, plain and simple. The UFC had been pushing Liddell like nobody’s business. His consistent knockout power and exciting style made him seem like the man who could finally take the UFC out of the bars and into the living rooms. Ultimately Liddell’s incredible career did bring MMA a great deal closer to the mainstream, but June 6th 2003 wasn’t the night he would do it.”

          Pretty easy, really.

          • Thanks for the quick and respectful reply despite my original comment being a hint complainy. I see what you mean a bit better now, I probably misinterpreted it the first time. I thought the text would have to be source-driven, as in academic texts (that is all I am writing currently), rather than using sources as additional perspective and content to improve the story. Dumb me.

  6. OMG hurling looks awesome.

  7. Omar the Great says:

    Is the link you quote for sources also included in the word count?

    • I would count only the body of your essay and not the links. Then again, we’re not crazy concerned with word count. Just make sure you do good, substantive work and the word count should take care of itself.

  8. caroline says:

    can we have an extension? …just a little one?

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