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October 25, 2012

Sports, Men and Masculinity – I overheard a conversation between two special men in my life.

My Uncle Jack, excited about his success, on the tennis court, bragged, “Three aces, against a woman who ALWAYS returns everything. It made my day,” he said.

His energy soared through the speakerphone. “I’ll tell you… that woman NEVER misses.”

Uncle Jack is ninety-one years old.

My husband, retired from tennis against his will, was impressed and said all the right things.

“You showed her.” “Way to go.”

“Did I tell you she was twenty-five years younger than I am?”

I was glad Uncle Jack couldn’t see his jealous face.

Before his injury, my husband had also been a pretty good tennis player, taking pride in the trophies he had won over the years. He also keeps the medals he won, when he played baseball, as a kid.

But I couldn’t believe my ears when he began to tell Uncle Jack about how he had been voted athlete of the year in Junior High School and about how he had beaten out beaten out Rhoda Grummer by two votes.

To his credit, he was smiling, as he spoke.

Jack laughed too.

So then I thought some about men and their sports. Women play sports, but why is playing some game or succeeding at some athletic goal seem to be so important to so many more men?

Consider that good men have an imperative to be reliable and dependable. Their sport, game or race is an acceptable outlet for them to release and just have fun. Men would tell you that there aren’t many others. Smart women understand this.

Consider too, that succeeding at a sport, remains a masculine ideal. Too many men have confided in me that their own personal image of masculinity feels repeatedly challenged.

“You never quite arrive.” one man said recently. “You have to keep proving your mettle. And then you have to do it again.”

Sports provide this opportunity.

May I suggest that there are others?

Sometimes, men forget that masculinity and competence can be measured is many other ways too.

Pursue an interest, any interest to some level of excellence, for example.

Men who do that are hot. That’s what I think.


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