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Athletic Supporters

by Mark Phillips    --show me more like this




Everyone needs hobbies. Working on something that is not work and not a responsibility allows those parts of us that we have to suppress to be free for a short time. An accountant who paints on the weekends does so because painting lets his creativity flow. If he were “creative” at work, it would be called fraud and he would be arrested—or promoted.

When Stay-At-Home-Dads choose hobbies, they must tap our primeval hunting, smelly, dirty, grunting, neanderthal Caveman. They must unleash, for a short time, our combative, defensive Gladiator. Because these deep, ugly parts of us cannot be fully released during our daily routine, we must find a way to give them some air every once in a while. One of the best places do this is on the playing field. Playing sports is the ideal way to let loose our predators, but following sports as a fan is a good secondary choice. Besides, if you follow a particular sports team, you can engage in the manliest of endeavors: memorizing statistics. That’s for a later discussion.

Did you know that the Olympics were originally designed to test Greek soldiers? They competed in games like wrestling and archery to demonstrate their combative skills. I have heard that they did it all naked, but that really is not pertinent here.

Obviously, the criteria for becoming an Olympic sport has changed a bit over the years. Just ask Nison Aronov, the eight-time national ping pong champion of Tajikistan, or Paal Trulsen, the captain of the Norwegian curling team, which upset Canada and won gold in Salt Lake City. Sports like boxing and fencing are obvious descendants of gladiatorial games. Others, like beach volleyball and baseball, are not as clear.

Regardless of their Olympic standing, there are sports that are manly and sports that are not. In my opinion, which is based on years of extensive sitting around and thinking, manly sports must have all of the following criteria:

1) There must be hitting. This does not eliminate non-contact sports. The thing being hit can be an object instead of your opponent, although mano-e-mano violence is best. In fact, in most sports, it’s the ball or puck that gets the most abuse. The manliest of sports involve a weapon of some sort, as well.

2) There must be combative strategy. In the same way Hannibal had to make his way over the Alps, a sportsman must find a way to outsmart and outmaneuver his opponent.

3) Finally, there must be the opportunity for trash talking. Because we are pretty good at belittling our opponents, this criterion eliminates only a few sports, like PGA golf, bicycling, and badminton.

When you stop to think of it, it is amazing how many different sports are out there. They range from the classic and demure, like croquet, to the absurdly tough, like “Carrying Heavy Rocks from One Place to Another Iron Man Competition”. In between, there are manly sports like football and rugby. There are also wimpy sports like cricket and swimming.

Next week…a discussion of the manly sports of hockey, boxing, and ping pong!



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