“There are intangibles to playing sports: self-discipline, overcoming hardship, facing fear, camaraderie.”

This is a comment by Rick on the post “Real Men Don’t Watch Sports“.

While sports sometimes have a tendency to seem violent and bring out hostile “manly” attitudes, someone who has lived through them has a different perspective.

Rick said:

1. There are intangibles to playing sports which it appears you’ve never experienced: self-discipline, mental toughness, overcoming hardship, facing fear, camaraderie. If you don’t see why men bond through hardship that’s your own inexperience at fault.

2. Unnaturally muscled meatheads? What a sad and insulting way to look at people not like you. It reeks of the same whininess that the “nice guys” always do: instead of just being better, or being happy with who you are, you have to tear down other people for who they are. Really, for who you imagine they are. Plenty of athletes are incredibly smart. But all you see, resentfully, is muscles.

3. Men love to “talk shop.” Sports give a common subject for men from different walks of life to “talk shop.” I’m a philosophy student. I can’t talk shop with most of my friends because the finer points of modal logic do not interest them. But we can talk about sports.

4. It’s inspiring to see other human beings achieve. It’s exciting to see strategy and skill play out. And it’s nice to see sincerity in our culture, not just smirking irony or spoiled-child “authenticity.” Athletes are nothing if not sincere.

5. Go read a poem? Seriously? I love poetry. I memorize it for fun. I recite it on long drives to myself. I still recognize that encouraging men to *play* the sport instead of watching it is smarter advice. 

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Photo credit: Flickr / roanokecollege

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  1. Joan…i should’ve written …should play sports.

  2. Joan…I coach sport’s- boy’s and girls- and I think everyone should,even if its just with your friends.My daughter (and sons) played three sports and learned important lessons,like sometimes its not about your looks.Sometimes life is black and white and it’s put up or shut up.She learned to condition her body and push herself beyond her percieved limits.She learned she is a physical being not just an emotional being.And she learned to share and be selfless;putting the team goals before her own.She also learned not whine about her weight but to do something about it if she didn’t like it.

  3. I seriously question (and, in fact, emphatically reject) the notion that all boys must participate in sports. Boys who want to play sports should be given every opportunity to do so, but sports aren’t for everyone. Whatever happened to respecting the personal preferences of others (even when they don’t coincide with your own)? Stop making sports into a phony test of “manhood,” and stop marginalizing nonathletic boys.

    • I agree with you. Sports worked for me and I’m glad I had the opportunity to play as a kid and to continue to share a love of sports with others, but that’s not everyone’s experience. Sports shouldn’t be mandatory or some qualifier for manhood, but in the same sense, being a jock or a fan shouldn’t get you labeled a one dimensional cretin. I know that’s not your stance, Bill, but I’ve been burned a few times by people assuming that since I’m fit and I know what a cover 2 defense is, I must think Francis Bacon is in that band with Kevin or that Yeats is a misspelled baking ingredient.

  4. Sports is a great outlet for men. It’s an opportunity for men to be competitive and aggressive–chest-thumping, much like our primal ancestors did. Not to mention the physical and mental benefits of exercise, affiliation, camaderie, and sportsmanship. There’s been research on male competitiveness and bonding with in-groups, that corroborate male behavior and sports. The benefits are not the same by watching sports, playing video games, or reading poetry.

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