Maybe Manly Sports

There are sports that are obviously manly, like hockey and boxing. There are sports that are obviously wimpy, like golf and badminton. Then there are sports that are hard to define either way, some because they don’t follow the rules of “Manly Sports” and some because their rules are too hard to follow.

NASCAR. To be honest, I don’t understand the appeal of NASCAR. The tracks are circles. The cars, fast as they are, just drive around and around and around. There is no athleticism to speak of. (“But,” says my pal Billy Bob, “it’s hard work keeping those cars in control. Ya’ll ever see how much they’re sweatin’ when they climb out?”) Until I see all of the drivers needing to pump iron to beat the competition, my opinion stays put

However, car racing has a very important aspect of Manly Sports. It has cars. Men and cars go together like…men and cars. Their sound, their feel, their looks all connect with something deep and powerful in the male psyche. Talking about engines and horsepower and tires bonds men to each other like nothing else. NASCAR definitely has its place in a man’s world. I don’t enjoy watching the spin cycle at the laundromat and I don’t like watching car races, but I can see how another man might use the sport to raise his testosterone level.

A huge disadvantage of NASCAR is many men’s inability to realize when they are not driving on a race course. There should be a big difference in your driving when you are on a highway with crossroads, traffic lights, and people who are not competing with you instead of on a track where everyone is going the same direction. Lots of folks fail to recognize that difference and imagine a big number painted on their hood when they are driving to work. Stock cars do not have blinkers or brake lights. This type of driver doesn’t use either. When we lived in Florida, my wife asked a co-worker why no one seemed to used blinkers.

His response was, “Blinkers? This is NASCAR country, Baby!”

How about the bumper sticker that says, “I’m not tailgating. I’m drafting.” Clever, but scary for the rest of us.

Cricket, Rugby, Lacrosse and Curling. These fit into the category of “Sports I don’t Understand At All”. Cricket looks a lot like baseball, so I guess the same rules apply. However, it is a British sport, so it is probably too polite to be very masculine.

Rugby, on the other hand, is anything but polite. I have watched matches and tried to follow the rules, but it looks like a game I played in grade school called “Smear the Queer”. (When I transferred to a Catholic school, they called it “Kill the Guy.”). The rules were simple: whoever had the ball got tackled. If you didn’t want to be tackled, you threw the ball away. Now that was a game. Rugby’s rules are more complicated, but the level of carnage is the same. No pads, lots of tackling and blood. Good times. This ranks high on the list of Manly Sports.

Add a stick and you have lacrosse. The rules in lacrosse are easier to follow. It looks like hockey with no ice and you keep the ball in a net at the end of your stick instead of controlling it with the blade. If your opponent gets in your way, hit him with your stick. Lacrosse has a weapon and checking, so it is a good sport to play or watch.

I don’t know anyone who understands curling. The one thing it has going for it is that it is a Canadian sport. Canada invented hockey and the Mounties, so there must be something there, but I am having trouble seeing it. It’s very slow and there is no trash talking at all, but you do get to heave a rock down a length of ice. You also get to pretend you’re a zamboni and scrub the ice all the way down.

No, I still don’t see it.

©2008, Mark Phillips

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 Women, it's true, make human beings, but only men can make men. - Margaret Mead

Mark Phillips is a Stay-At-Home-Dad and freelance writer. Along with raising his four children, he is developing a franchise called “The Vacuum IS a Power Tool.” It is designed to help SAHDs maintain that which makes us men, instead of hairy Mom-substitutes. He earned a B.S. in Communication/Theatre Arts and teaching certificates in English, public speaking, and psychology from Eastern Michigan University. After six years as a high school English teacher and Director of Dramatic Arts at Powers Catholic High School in Flint, Michigan, he changed careers and became a Stay-At-Home-Dad. or E-Mail

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