Wimpy Sports

by Mark Phillips    –show me more like this

Playing or following sports is an excellent way for a Stay-At-Home-Dad to keep in touch with his Inner Gladiator. Before a man runs out and joins the nearest croquet league or buys a game-worn jersey of his favorite bowler, he should first analyze the sport to see if it qualifies as Manly. Some do not.

Running. Running is not a sport. It is exercise. Exercise is work. Work, in this context, is bad. Track and field events have similarities to both gladiatorial games and caveman activities, but running is just too hard to be any fun. The biggest flaw in running is that there is no goal. You run in order to run. It’s a futile cycle. You can compete in races, where the object is to run faster than everyone else, but that is not much different than running alone. You can’t even touch another competitor, much less hit them, so that element is completely missing. You do sweat when you run, so that’s a good thing.

Bicycling. I have enormous respect for Lance Armstrong, but until the Tour deFrance allows a demolition derby category, biking does not work. Bikes are useful for going to the store, going on a stroll, or just exercising (see above). While all of these are valuable, they are not Manly Sports. Besides, those little seats and spandex pants can make things really uncomfortable.

Bowling. I have heard that there are more bowling alleys in Michigan than any other state. There are also more golf courses. That does not bode well for the Wolverine State because bowling does not measure up as a Manly sport. It does have contact. The ball smashes into the pins and they go flying in every direction. However, the bowler is not touching the ball when it does its damage. The ball probably has a great time demolishing the tidy pyramid of pins, but the person bowling has already relinquished control over it. The competitive strategy is too simple to count: knock down more pins than your opponent. You do have to aim properly to pick up a spare, but that is competition with the pins, not your opponent. The only redeemable feature is the ability to trash talk. The strutting and dancing that bowlers do in the faces of their enemies can be beautiful things. However, that alone is not enough to bring it up to the level of Manly.

Croquet. Any activity you can play while listening to the theme to “Masterpiece Theatre” cannot be Manly. Yes, there is a mallet, but the restraint you have to employ when using is emasculating enough. You are allowed to wallop your opponents’ balls out of play, but you cannot gloat about it afterwards. Overall, this might be the un-Manliest “sport” there is.

Golf. This is a difficult game to categorize as a hunting or fighting game. However, so many men play it, there must be something there. We simply have to think outside the playing field. The object of golf is to use a club (think weapon) to hit a ball into a target. This is very similar to an artillery crew attempting to knock out an enemy’s position. The differences are that innocent people usually aren’t killed if you slice, and no one is shooting back at you when you are lining up your putt. Golf has three major drawbacks. First, it is not essentially competitive. You could play it all by yourself, so there would be no victory. Secondly, golf etiquette prohibits trash talk. You are not allowed to get into the face of your opponent when he chokes and misses an important putt. That takes out a lot of the fun. Finally, the better you get at golf, the fewer opportunities you get to hit the ball. In fact, the winner is the one with the lowest score. What is up with that?

Next week, curling, NASCAR, and rugby!