Why Must Men Prove Their Masculinity With Sports?

Photo: flickrCC/Anthony Quintano
football fan

Guys, here's your reality check. Man-to-Man.

The Super Bowl is fast approaching, and I'm trying to make sense of how crazy some men get with sports (and yes... some women, but let's focus this on men for the time being, okay?). It's a little... um... weird. For so many, it’s not one season... it's ALL seasons. American Football and Hockey (September through June), Basketball (October through June), Golf (January through October), Baseball (March through October). Then throw in Football (Soccer) and NASCAR just for kicks ... and THEN add fantasy sports during the season/offseason of all the above. 

Please understand, this isn't a bash on sports. Sports are great, teaching teamwork, fair play, dedication, honor, camaraderie, and the way athletes exemplify that practice leads to growth and bettering one's skills. However, I'm not talking about sports or sports athletes. I'm talking about some (perhaps many) male sports fans who spend hours and hours and hours in front of a TV watching OTHER people do things, all the while claiming "WE" won or "WE" lost. 

A Reality Check: YOU didn't do anything. You sat watching others accomplish tremendous feats ... but YOU didn't accomplish them. Those athletes didn't know you were watching, and would have won/lost regardless if you missed the game.

And not only does SO much time go to watching others accomplishing their goals, male fans of this sort do it in packs. Tribal, chanting, panting, and hating others (to the point of fighting or killing fans of opposing teams, for the simple reason that they cheer for/support another team!). Manufactured rivalries created to benefit ticket sales and lend themselves to allowing these men to outsource their masculinity.

"Outsourced Masculinity?" You bet. The behavioral dynamics are glaring, and they make a huge difference to love, marriage, relationships, and how couples interrelate:

  • He'll spend endless time religiously following/memorizing stats, players, scores, past games, past record-breaking activities of players), but forgets his anniversary. 

  • He takes his wedding ring off because it's "uncomfortable when working", but has no problem wearing another man's last name across his back—because a jersey makes it okay.

  • He'll take an anti-gay marriage stance and/or label non-aggressive activities as "gay" (and the men who pursue these activities as "f--s")... yet fail to see the obvious homoerotic nature of watching men smack each other on the ass or roll around on the ground on top of each other—with a phallus-shaped beer bottle in one hand and the ever-present Other Man's last name emblazoned across his back.

Full disclosure: I played baseball all the way through school. Third base — the Hot Corner — was my set. I was (and still am) extremely competitive. But I don't feel the need to validate myself as a man through some OTHER man's activities, accomplishments, successes and/or failures.

When I lost a game, I was disappointed ... really pissed sometimes, actually. But I was on the team, contributing to the win (or loss), so I could take ownership of the outcome. I wasn't sitting at home as a non-player, projecting my identity/masculinity on a player I'd never met.

Masculinity comes from within. It can be influenced by things like activities and surroundings, but ultimately it's an inside job.

Do boys and men participate in tribal activities to establish pecking order, in a primal sense? Sure. But (speaking tribally/primally) if a man is sitting watching other men establish THEIR pecking order... these other men winning doesn't grant the observers the same level of power/influence. It means the observers are merely watching others achieve... and attempting to validate their own sense of self-worth and masculinity.

MEN—self-assured men—take care of theirs. They don't only watch; they act. They learn. They grow. They don't just sit back and watch others achieve; they work hard to capture the love and happiness they want out of life. Are they competitive? Perhaps. But a competitive nature is a personal choice, and a self-assured man wouldn't let this happen at the expense of his honor. And he certainly wouldn't leave his girl by the wayside as he cheers on strangers.

Note: Does this apply to ALL male sports fans? No. ONLY men? Of course not; they (and we) know who the offenders are.

Bottom line: Are sports “bad”? Of course not. But everything in moderation… to include moderation itself. Perhaps comedian Whitney Cummings said it best: “Why do guys wear team jerseys to watch sports on TV? That’s like me dressing as a dead hooker to watch Law & Order SVU.”



Explore YourTango