I tried so hard to enjoy watching sports when I was a kid. I even went as far as collecting sports cards. I remember saying to myself, “Ok Joshua, you have to pick a team that you like and then get to know everything about them“. I randomly picked the Phoenix Suns (it was probably the purple). I went through my basketball cards and tried to memorize each of the players’ names – but it was useless, I was bored out of my mind and confused about the religious-like zeal that sports fans had. Especially men. What a strange cult! Looking back, I think it was simply an attempt to fit in and make my dad think that his arts & crafts making, comic book collecting, electric guitar playing son with blue hair had hope of being a ‘real man’.
My sister recently sent me an article about a hockey tradition in Detroit where squids are tossed around on the ice. Where drunken men insanely twirl and fling these creatures above their heads and across the ice. Apparently this thing dates back to the early ‘50s and has something to do with casting a magical spell to win. Read the article and watch the video here.
So what is it about men, sports, and cruelty to animals? Cockfighting, Michael Vic, elephant polo, bullfighting, horse racing, horse fighting, dog racing, trophy hunting, rodeo – what cultural significance do these all have? What do they say about us? What do they say about men specifically?
Are men inherently brutal? Are sports one big cock-fight (not the bird kind)? Do guys get together and say “Let’s go kill stuff, it’ll be fun!”? Do boys truly enjoy these things, or do they break under the pressure of tradition – not unlike the wild horse who is broken – and simply fall into line acting out these dramas in an attempt to prove their manhood?
What I do know is that I don’t enjoy watching sports. I enjoy physical activity – I run, I bike, I hike, I play tennis, I swim – but I simply do not identify with the male prototype who acts like he is part of the team he watches on TV and gathers in groups to get wasted, get loud, and have an incredibly complicated, testosterone-laden excuse to act out his desires to be close with other men (look at pro wresting! Men in speedos pretending to fight). Nor do I identify with the man that kills or sends animals to kill each other in name of entertainment. Does our homophobic culture push men to do these things as an only option for male intimacy? Maybe, but consider the Romans – homosexuality was encouraged and they had cruel sports, too.