Manly sports men

I called Will Bunch last night, and when he picked up the phone, I said, ” ‘Girly men’? I mean, really, Will.” I was really annoyed.

He was a little sheepish, but not much. “Yeah, I guess I wasn’t very politically correct,” he said.

What, because getting your brain smashed so often that you risk early-onset Alzheimer’s still isn’t quite “manly” enough? They’re also required to lose fingers to frostbite?

Most of my women friends think it’s kind of weird that middle-aged men relate so very intensely to the supposed “manliness” of a bunch of paid mercenaries and their ability to move the football down the field. It seems to me that it becomes much more than a game — and not in a good way.

As I’ve mentioned, football has never really appealed to me, for the same reasons boxing doesn’t. It’s brutal. (I lost whatever small interest I had when they started miking the field so much, you could hear the players’ bones crunch – Live! On TV!) By the way, you’ll notice that baseball fans rarely (if ever) accuse players of lacking testosterone.

Why is this the measure of manliness, this ability to swallow physical and emotional pain and keep going? What does that say about how society shapes men’s emotional state?

I mean, in terms of cheap labor and cannon fodder for the military-industrial complex, it’s certainly more useful to have a male disconnect from pain. No question. Endurance while you’re being crushed by the ruthless machine? An outstanding and useful trait! Multinational corps grow ever larger on man’s ability to endure.

But is it good for people? Is it good for families? I’ve known more wounded men whose fathers absolutely crushed them in some twisted quest to make them “strong.” There are many reasons for divorce, but I’d say that marriages break up most often because men are so disconnected from their own feelings, their only acceptable outlet is anger. (Or drinking, cheating, or gambling.) They turn into brick walls under some misguided delusion that it’s appropriate self-protection.

Call it a hunch, but I’d bet that the guys who scream the loudest about the new NFL injury-protection rules, saying they turn football players into a bunch of wussies, are guys who have such problems with their own emotions, they use football players as emotional surrogates.

Your thoughts?

5 thoughts on “Manly sports men

  1. I’ve never been able to find proper attribution, but have read a couple of accounts of a Nazi general visiting the US back when Fascism was more visibly popular than today and coming away from a football game to declare “Never go to War with people who play games like that”.

    ‘Course when you factor the whole almost a hundred thousand people packed into a stadium all doing “The Wave” thing in with the “Bread and Circuses” approach to Corporate Media all stadium sports are pretty damned Fascist, and should be outlawed. I’m looking forward to next year’s lock-outs, to the whole damned industry shut down.

  2. I have no problem with high school football, even though the sport does often result in life-changing injuries at any level of play, because of the school spirit issue… same with college, even though one knows the school spirit is supplanted by the players’ ambitions to go pro.

    But pro ball? As you said, it’s mercenary. There is no spirit.

    I lived in Nashville when Bud Adams decided he didn’t want his team to be the Houston Oilers anymore (because they wouldn’t build him a new stadium) and turned them into the Tennessee Titans (because the City of Nashville and the State of Tennessee would). They used grammar school children to test flush their toilets… tore down historic buildings and found an “extra” $4M in the water budget of a town where the water comes out of the tap colored red or yellow sometimes… And now the morons of the regaion “Support” and “Believe in” the Titans… It’s bad religion… Period…

  3. Wow, Will really was heavy on the female-as-bad metaphors, wasn’t he?

    I was also surprised that the game was postponed, but I figured the mayor didn’t want 50,000 fans out on the streets at 11:30 pm in 20 inches of snow. I don’t blame him for that.

    As to the bizarre cult of football, it’s beyond me. My husband, of whom I’m really very fond, becomes a different person around sports, and not in a good way (as you said). I try to ignore it as best I can. And for the new rules to help reduce head injury, geez. It’s just business. The league is trying to reduce their liability and trying to keep players around a little longer, like maybe a whole season, to get their money’s worth out of them. They certainly don’t care about players’ bodies out of compassion.

  4. I fell out of love with football years ago and only occasionally watch anymore. I supported my kids playing any sport they wanted, including Karate, but not football. Only significant injuries ever sustained by the kids was in football, so it was pretty easy to understand when they said ‘fuck this shit.’ New rules don’t bother me, inconsistent calling of them does though. And I’m an absolute believer in the new requirements to have players sit out games when they receive a concussion.

  5. Well, I am from the South and the SEC rules and in my world orange teams are wrong. And I grew up watching GA Championship Wresting with Gordan Sollie (even though I knew at a young age it was fake, it WAS funny.)

    Athletic competition is part of human nature. All cultures have games to have fun and for pleasure, to solve differences (like the Cherokee and Creeks) or simple rivalries like in high school. Some competitions are more cerebral: chess, baseball, poker, board games. Others are more physical: soccer, rugby, basketball.

    There nothing wrong with sports, it is the blood sport, the game for financial gain, the games that over extend the human body for entertainment that is wrong.

    Everyone should have a competitive game they practice. It invites friendship, the chance to learn about winning and losing and how to deal with it.

    Men are from Mars, Women from Venus, never a truer statement. I think that men have incredible amounts of the aggressive testosterone energy. It is natural. It is unfortunate that we have devolved to animals glued to the blue screen with pizza and beer fantasizing that we are these uber humans or a part of the game.

    I guess the most annoying aspect is listening to the ongoing mental masturbation by sports commentators.

    Does anyone remember ABC Wide World of Sports? Now, that was a cool show!

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