big games

Chuck Klosterman wrote last week, “I love the Patriots. As such, go Giants?“. It’s quite a lovely article whether you’re a football fan or not. 

And I’m not – I’m not really much of a sports fan to start with, but I’m especially not a football fan. I like baseball, maybe because I liked it as a kid, maybe because it feels like a slowly unfolding story.. I’m not sure, but I enjoy watching it. But you could never call football an unfolding story. It is war, or a simulated safe-war to replace the actual battlefield.I think I have always been averse to it because it absolutely solidifies the opposed definitions of genders. It is hyper masculine and women can only be involved as cheerleaders, being hyper feminine. I’ve always been drawn to a relaxed notion about gender identity, and have preferred those areas where girlish men and boyish women are just as likely to succeed as anyone, so football is sort of the punch in the face to that whole philosophy. It really shouts out, big, burly, testosterone-pumping males are just better at certain things. Of course, the utility of those things is questionable – at one time it meant life or death, but now it’s just about a championship ring – but still, it’s clear no female could ever play professional football.


Now, sure, plenty of men can’t either, and plenty of women would outdo some of those men. And obviously this is true to a certain extent of most sports – the only sports where women can really hold their own in comparison to men are only marginally considered sports (things like gymnastics or figure skating). But football is still the epitome of this dichotomy, as represented in the average high school, with the captain of the football team dating the head cheerleader. So do I not like the sport because of what it represents, or does what it represent come through in the sport itself?


I watched the Superb Owl (as I prefer to call it) yesterday, at a friend’s house. There were three couples there; my bf was rooting for the Patriots and the other two guys were rooting for the Giants. None of the women cared, particularly. I have watched the game before, but I don’t think ever with as many people who actually cared, or perhaps it was just a game where there was more on the line – two NYers and a Bostonian in the room when the Pats had an almost-perfect season meant that the 4th quarter at least was pretty exciting. And I did get caught up in drama. Not being committed to one team or the other I was able to be more of a reflective observer than an engaged fan, and from that perspective it was a sort of odd game. The first half was not very interesting – it seemed like there were a lot of missed opportunities, but I guess that’s just what someone who knew the game would call “good defense” – but things built up in the second half, and the final few minutes were really quite memorable.


But I still don’t really like football.

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7 Responses to “big games”

  1. andrew Says:

    maybe your post fascinated me for a whole number of reasons

    #1: yes, football is a hyper-masculine sport, yet why is it only in sports where society admits that men can show their feeling. One of the giants was openly weeping in a post game interview, the dude was a mess. No one will question his manhood.. In hyper-masculinity one is allowed to be…. human… in ways prohibited to men in so many other areas of life

    #2: more women than men are football fans now. This is true of my wife Jessica, and of her mom, in fact in the house where Peg watched the game, the women kicked the men out of the main TV room, since they were “talking too much & getting in the way of the game” What is going on in society that is creating these changes?

    #3: many men are Men, to a certain extent, HARDWIRED to have some part of themselves be warriors. I’ll be dammed if I know why I relentlessly challenge myself physically. but I do know that it’s incredibly satisfying, & if this was gone from my life, I’d be miserable.. I don’t play football, but I understand why those men MUST.

    Now there is little opportunity in our lazy/couch centric culture to do this, so many people just choose to cheer instead of participate. It fills the same void in the soul. If people did not have this outlet, I think the societal impact would be brutal..

    #4: Yeah, the game was amazing, I agree no woman could play football, but do you know the women’s winning time in the Ironman triathlon would have beaten all the men 10 years ago… and women compete equally with men in equestrian events and ultra-endurance things that last over 24 hours…

    So yeah, have a guy along if you are going to be in a brawl, but if you have to walk 100 miles, most women will make it before most men. Women survive starvation a lot better too… So we are different, Viva la Difference!!

  2. drinkme Says:

    re #4, I meant to say something about the endurance thing – I did know that. I was also going to say something about the question of whether the sports women excel in become sort of downgraded specifically because women do well in them – like how salaries often go down in professions when more women become successful in them. The idea that if “a girl can do it” it must not have been that hard after all… I’m fine with viva la difference, and am optimistic that the modern world has adjusted its perspective of the worth of women, but I also know that notions of gender are deep seated and often unquestioned. (People will think it’s perfectly reasonable to expect that someone with a high voice is dumb, for instance).

    Your whole comment is really interesting – I will respond to your other thoughts tomorrow as I have to do some reading tonight. Glad you guys enjoyed the game though 🙂

  3. rushmc Says:

    I’m not sure there’s any problem with men being inherently better-equipped for some things than women (or vice versa). I think the problem is the attitude toward such facts that some people develop. Really, it’s as silly to blame men or women for their biological aptitudes as it is to blame Northern Europeans for being able to digest milk.

    Of course, it’s equally pointless to give them much credit for them.

  4. peacay Says:

    Tennis is something of the odd one out.

  5. rushmc Says:

    Interesting and somewhat on-topic: http://books.guardian.co.uk/reviews/politicsphilosophyandsociety/0,,2195026,00.html.

  6. Dennis Osborne Says:

    I have fond memories of Monday Night Football crowds and there were usually many women whooping it up, too. So I agree with Andrew, there have become a lot of women enthusiasts. And frankly, ‘Drink Me,’ I detect from your writing and confession of becoming excited in the second half of the game, you’re in danger of becoming one, too. Just learn to have a pool table about for uninteresting games and you’ll be fine.

    I thought Andrew’s remarks fascinating, as well, about men being able to show emotion in combat situations. Kenneth Brannaugh’s great production (I thought) of Henry V did well at conveying those emotional tendencies at various times of battle, too. But until Andrew made his comment, I hadn’t really considered those emotions wouldn’t normally be permitted of men in everyday situations, not in America, anyway. But it’s true. I really think it is.

    I have observed other cultures seem to allow for more expression, though. But we are kind of like Spartans or Stoics, here, where it would seem you have to be dropping blood before you can drop any tears. Even then, I wonder, if you have to win before you can cry. It could be tears are not permitted of losers. Sorry for mixing in some politics but it’s sort of like how it’s OK for Rush Limbaugh to cry for millionaires having to pay taxes but not for people going hungry.

    Another (sometimes controversial) pseudo-sport, requiring endurance, where women often prevail over men, is the Iditarod. As for brawling, I’ve got to correct you, Andrew. You must not see many movies. If you did you’d know it’s women who always end up prevailing over men in combat, now.

    I tend to be a pacifist in kind of a Ron Paul kind of way, conceding an occasional war may be regretfully necessary but most are superfluous. Nevertheless, I enjoy the artificial combat of football. It is sort of a chess game on the field. Harry Potter could put her characters out there only maybe with winged dragons occasionally making off with the ball. And I like the connection with history, too. How can you watch a game and not think of the Romans with all their coliseums? I’ll bet the audience sound effects were similar. You know, when you consider, The Greeks were more like a baseball crowd with likely lone observers sometimes shouting out comments while plays were being performed. But the Romans, were football crowds all the way.

    As for cheerleaders, I don’t think they’re out there so much for men as women. If they were there for the guys, we’d be seeing more of them on the TV screen. We have a minor league baseball team in my area and they’ve taken to having cheerleaders, now, too. It’s just one or two out there, and I think usually guys. Still, I feel one of the virtues of baseball is having people call out their own lines if they want to yell out something. But I think the league decided women like organized cheering. So they went with it to try to bring them in. And if I sound demeaning, it’s intentional. Who invented cheer leading anyway? I’ll bet they didn’t do that in Rome. Their chants were more spontaneous.

    Sorry for letting off some steam but I thought betting on the Patriots couldn’t have been a safer wager. I still can’t believe they lost.

  7. Dennis Osborne Says:

    I’ll refrain from giving you my opinion of the Clemens hearing. But I couldn’t resist poking some fun, including at Clemens. Groan all you like. I can’t hear a thing.

    Congressman Waxman was told by a subordinate that two brothers, Jeff Hunt and Robert Hunt had conferred at a sports seminar about his investigatory panel on steroid use in baseball. The younger brother, Jeff, he reported, insisted that the panel had done a remarkable job while Robert was of the opposite opinion. One of the two Hunt brothers, his page added, was so well spoken he was invited to appear on Meet the Press to give his assessment of Waxman’s efforts. “Which Hunt brother?” Waxman asked. “Exactly, so, Bro,” his young informer echoed, before correcting himself to say, “I mean, Sir.”

    Roger Clemens attempted to live up to his namesake when testifying before Congress, hoping to show all of the same concern for truth that would be expected of such a famous individual, possessing the same last name as his own. Of course, that would be Samuel, I’m referring to.

    Is it any wonder Bonds and Clemens didn’t realize they were taking steroids, given the exorbitant prices they would have paid? And, of course, they may not have used any of the stuff. We don’t know and never did. Wink. Wink. Nod. Nod. But if they did, well, everyone whose ever shopped at Costco would know they could expect discounts for bulk products of all kinds. So for what they would have paid, how could they possibly have thought it was for any kind of bulk enhancements, right?

    Besides, all this stuff about Bonds and Clemens is just a bunch of bulk, anyway!

    They say steroids make your balls shrink. Do you suppose that’s why so many may have struck out against Clemens?

    Just a brief lesson for those who are unfamiliar with the evolution of Human Growth Hormone experimentation. This study came to us from Denmark and noted the physical effect on male participants administered a growth supplement and emotional responses from their subjects who worked at a Copenhagen bordello. When there was no growth, tally takers recorded, ‘Male unaffected,’ or M U. When there was growth, it would be recorded as ‘Male growth,’ or M G. Likewise their subjects were studied for reactions. When there was none, it would be recorded as ‘N,’ for none. But when there was reaction, it tended to be excessive and was recorded as ‘W M.’ Later this was misspelled, deliberately, to keep things more professional and read as, ‘hormones.’

    To the surprise of researchers, M Gs almost always resulted in hormones and so led to the naming of a car, while M U s inevitably led to ‘N s,’ again, meaning, ‘no reaction.’ And from this Danish lab abbreviation came to us the word, ‘Mundane,’ meaning, ‘down to earth, unable to fly.’

    When Women’s Lib came into vogue, tally takers changed M to H for ‘human’ and MGH became HGH, as it is known today. It might be noted, too, that’s where ‘Hun,’ comes from. meaning ‘Human unaffected, no reaction.’ We first applied the term to Germans in WWI and WWII, disparagingly, suggesting they had no fire power. Later, after the wars ended, we frequently saw terms of endearment transpose through the years from ‘Darling,’ and ‘Sweetheart,’ to ‘Hun,’ at which point we all knew what was going on or rather not going on in that relationship.

    Addendum; Occasionally, when the effect was exceptionally great in the Danish lab, female lab assistants, in particular, often evoked an ‘eesh,’ reaction which was recorded as ‘ish.’ Hence came the word ‘Danish,’ which we all now know as a substance which can cause much growth. In fact, you might recall ‘The Refrigerator,’ of the Chicago Bears was kicked off the team for growing too big as a result of an excess of Danish. His may have been the first suspension related to artificial bulk enhancers. And that pretty much is the history of HGH, as I know it.

    I hope all this has been helpful. I’ve attempted to mix in a bit of humor as was taught me at a weekend seminar in Branson, Missouri, fortuitously scheduled for the same weekend Mel Tillis was performing. And so I like to think I can put Robin Williams to shame. He’s too fast for me. He’s too fast for anyone. You can’t tell if he’s doing Shakespeare or Groucho Marx.

    I hate doing this but I’ve got to get back to work. So many duties to attend to. But ho hum, I may just take a nap first. And my lumbago seems to be acting up. Well, anyway, never mind all that. Just, what was I saying? As you were. Yes, as you were. . .

    General Malaise

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