THIRD MAN IN: Sportsophobia

Behind the Bench/Sports by

Sports are boring. Let’s talk about baseball – I don’t care if it is “America’s pastime,” but when a game only becomes exciting after two and a half hours and consists of waiting to find out whether a player will hit the ball – or if it’s really heated, whether a player will catch it – then I believe it’s time to find a better way to spend the afternoon. How about football? It’s astounding to me that a 400-pound man throwing himself on a pile of other 400-pound men is part of an official game. I am literally haunted by the sounds of the television on a Sunday afternoon – the monotone announcer mumbling something about a 50-yard line. I won’t even begin to express my befuddlement when I moved to Canada and discovered curling – a sport in which players use swiffers to move stones across the ice.

Sports make men even more socially inept than they already are. As if baseball season, basketball season, football season, and hockey season weren’t enough to fill 365 days of the year, men are now also playing fantasy sports. If any man who engages in cyber sports thinks that he is better than that nerd playing World of Warcraft, he is sadly mistaken. To the average female, this is probably a bigger deal-breaker. And whatever happened to the days when going out to a bar meant socializing with your friends to the tune of some good music? Now, the only thing you’re likely to find at a bar is wall-to-wall TVs and tables of screaming men who can’t be bothered to make real conversation.

Sports are unsettling. Our society gawks at the cultural barbarism of gladiatorial times, but here we are, continuing to engage our most violent and competitive instincts – our Hobbesian inner natures that will readily abandon the social contract in order to embrace the state of nature. We’ve simply traded the Coliseum for the gridiron, armour for jerseys, swords for bats and balls, and “to the death” for “to the concussion.”

At the risk of having a mob of furious Canadians hunt me down, I will only say that when I hear the sounds of hockey players crashing violently into the glass or watch a player repeatedly extend his fist into another player’s face like a whack-a-mole at an amusement park, I can only imagine a crowd erupting into chants of “Caesar!”

I take issue with not only the inherent barbarism of contact sports, but the absolutely infantile state in which they place zealous fans and observers. I’ve seen men who get into fist fights and throw broken beer bottles into people’s faces over petty sports disagreements. I’ve heard of friends who never speak to each other again because they support rival teams. Why is it that when I visit Boston, the first thing I hear from local men is, ‘Oooh a Yankee.’ Really? When you encounter a New Yorker, your mind runs immediately to baseball?

In my humble opinion, there are a lot of things that went awry on the Y chromosome: the need to direct a woman when she is trying to park, the refusal to ask for directions when lost, and the generally slow intake of emotional cues, to name just a few. But the fanatical addiction to sports is by far the worst. Don’t get me wrong, I think physical exertion is invaluable, and a little competitive energy is healthy. But the world of contact sports takes on a whole new level of absurdity – both in its participants and in its observers. You disagree with me? How ’bout I smash a beer bottle over your head? ?

Disclaimer: This is a gross generalization of the male gender and the world of sports as a whole. The author acknowledges that there are women who enjoy sports and some men who do not like sports, or do not revert to cavemen while watching sports.