The term “hidden intellectualism” that Graff uses as the title of his essay indicates the central focus of his argument, the alternate forms of intellectualism that are overlooked or forgotten. From the beginning of his writing he makes it clear that he believes that there are many paths to intellectualism. He condemns the belief that what makes the intellectual is the knowledge and interpretation of classic literature, instead arguing that there are many different ways people develop the traits of intellectuals. Sports is the example he uses to convey how he is not only against the idea that the only path to intellectualism is through academics, but that he himself, a renowned intellectual, acquired his ability to understand and reason abstractly, not in an English class, but through the passion for sports. Graff’s argument is that passion is what makes the intellectual not academic talent.
He uses his childhood to prove his argument that some of the outside influences on our lives are what teach us the skills that are used to define intellectuals. The love he had for sports as a child instilled more passion in him than did school. As a result he learned the values schools intend to instill in children, not from his classes, but from his involvement in sports. In Graff’s mind the schools missed out on the opportunity to develop their students into intellectuals by not encouraging the use of their individual passions in their schoolwork. I agree with Graff that to be an intellectual has very little to do with being a scholarly student and more to do with harnessing your talent and using it to debate, analyze, and discover new information. Every person who develops their passion for something has the potential to be an intellectual as long as they use their gifts to share knowledge with other people. The intellectualism that Graff refers to as hidden only is hidden because people do not realize the extent of their knowledge and its use in the modern world.