Balls and sticks don’t define masculinity

Illustration by Steck Von.

Marlon McKay

Contributing Writer

 

I don’t like sports. I don’t understand sports. I don’t even watch the Super Bowl. For me, sports are simply groups of people running really fast and throwing, kicking or hitting a ball really far. My family jokes that I can’t tell the difference between a touchdown and a homerun. While I don’t completely ignore sports, I’ve always felt they isolated me from other men.

Whenever I go to a barber shop, the first thing my barber asks me is, “What’s your favorite football team?” to start up a conversation. There’s nothing wrong with that, he’s just trying to be friendly. However, constantly being asked about something you don’t care for gets annoying. When I answer “I don’t watch football,” an awkward silence follows as my eyes glide over the barbershop walls, decorated in sports posters and paraphernalia.

As a male, I’m supposed to care about sports. That’s why it remains the go-to conversation at barbershops. Men are supposed to be strong rough-housers — sports perfectly emulate that aspect of society’s masculine gender construct. Sports should be fun and entertaining while also providing a sense of community. But for me, they just feel like another awkward obstacle.

Love for sports is so deeply rooted in our society that I once had a high school teacher who made us create our own March Madness brackets as an assignment. I remember being too embarrassed to admit I didn’t know what March Madness was. My embarrassment only grew when the teacher looked at my sheet of teams and chuckled at my completely random choices. While the rest of the class was excited about the assignment, I coiled into my isolation and awkwardness and read my book until the bell rang.

Whenever I tell people I don’t like sports, there’s always the comment that it’s simply because I’m not good at them. But that is not true — I don’t like sports because I don’t find them entertaining. My parents signed me up for flag football when I was a kid, and I complained so much they let me leave within a week of joining. I’d rather be sitting at home reading a “Black Lagoon” book.

My ideas of fun include staying at home, writing short stories in my journal and watching movies like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “H2O: Just Add Water ” or “W.I.T.C.H.” A majority of my sources of entertainment — aside from Pokémon — are aimed toward the female demographic. When I was younger, the chances of going out and meeting another man with the same interests as me were slim. The few male friends I had would probably laugh at this article — if I didn’t hide it from them so I wouldn’t see them laughing.

While I’m over that type of embarrassment, it is still gut-wrenching when people close to me tell me to go out and play sports. Despite my obvious lack of interest in sports, because I am a man, people assume I want to watch or care about the latest game. I don’t like sports, and regardless of how much society tells me I should, I probably never will. That fact doesn’t make me any less of a man or undermine my masculinity.

 

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