It is an interesting thought experiment, to imagine what it would be like if, as a man, you lost your ability to enjoy being a spectator sports fan. Try it. Take a few minutes to imagine that. If you start crying that is okay.
What would you be doing with the time you would normally be spending being a spectator and a consumer of spectator sports information? If you are still crying, remember this is only a thought experiment.
For me growing up, I thought it quite clear that to be male was to be interested in spectator sports. My father was not much of a sports fan, nor was anyone in my family, but my friends sure were. I learned quickly that to not know the names of each professional baseball and football team in the USA, was an embarrassment. The amount of information that I would go on to need to know was staggering.
There was all sorts of sports history that it was critical to be conversant with.
Things like knowing which team was in first place today, was just the very beginning. Who was now the league leader in stolen bases was important, too.
Take a few minutes to think about all of the specialized knowledge you have obtained and memorized related to spectator sports? Have you memorized what colleges your favorite professional football players attended? Do you know the protocol for clearing a football player to resume play following a concussion?
Quick, what is the infield fly rule in baseball?
I could go on and on with what information it is good to have when hanging out with guys who want to watch and talk about sports. Many women have been liberated to be spectator sport enthusiasts as well. Many women love a man who can teach them some of what they need to know about spectator sports.
I am not sure how it happened, but I have drifted away from spectator sports. I encounter it every time I go to the gym I belong to, because there is a television monitor in the locker room that is always tuned to a sports channel. I wonder what channel the monitor is set to in the women’s locker room?
I look up, now and again, at the sports on the television, be it a game or talking head sports commentators. I often get interested, but not for long. Not long enough to want to sit on a locker room bench and watch.
My workout does not always call to be as loud as the sports show on the television does, I just choose to listen to the workout calling.
Another thing I have found myself doing is going to church on Sundays, a day previously devoted to worshiping men doing something with balls. My spectator spot on the coach now goes vacant.
My head, now holding less sport viewing data, seems to have more room for spirituality and the perception of beauty in the world. I seem to have more time for physical exercise and more time to write.
Roman Empire emperors knew that if they sponsored circuses, such as gladiator contests, it would distract many men from being politically active or even not very interested in politics or the social welfare of others. I can see how that works.
I don’t know if there are any of these men left, but there was a time when a men’s group that called themselves Promise-keepers, used to fill sports arenas with men who wanted to listen to sermons on how men could have dominion over the female partners, as long as they promised to treat them well.
Not my idea of a good idea, but interesting.
What strikes me as being a good idea is the Good Men Project’s growing interest in social action. The Good Men Project has a slogan that on its web site, goodmenproject.com, you will find “the conversation nobody else is having,” a conversation about men questioning what they have been taught about how men should think, feel, and act. Could this interest lead to more groups of men getting together to talk about their view on all things manly with less talk on who might win the Super Bowl?
Such conversation might get spiritual, might get political, and could include the male joy of spectator sport watching. If the Good Men Project had anything to do with it, conversation that is xenophobic would be not okay. Just about anything else would be.
Throughout history, men have met exclusively with other men, for social emotional support. Problem is that often such gatherings involved networking on how to exploit others not in the group. What is needed is group monitoring of that not happening. It would be a gathering with no secrets to hide from women or anybody else, but a place where men could be men, without trying to show off for women.
I would like to see them be groups that run on contributions, not fees. Groups where there was no need to learn specialized knowledge, secret handshakes, code words or signs.
That such groups would catch on anytime soon is a long shot, but hey, you never know. If one-tenth of one percent of resources that go toward the consumption of spectator sports went to sponsor Profeminist men’s group meetings there would be a mass men’s movement.
There are many who believe that men are so privileged that their is no need for any resources being directed their way for social-emotional support. I am with the many who don’t believe that.
I plan on continuing to go to church, continuing to read and write for goodmenproject.com and continuing to watch a little sports now and again. I feel strongly compelled to do the first two. I will continue to enjoy spectator sports because I like to. I just don’t like to as much as I used to.
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