Bench Talk: Masculinity in Male Sports

by Megan Murray

sports editor

Washington Nationals stars Jonathon Paplebon and Bryce Harper’s dugout altercation last month is just one of a vast number of fights or heated arguments that occur in male sporting events. I have to question the aspect of masculinity in male sports: Is it necessary or is it stupidity?

Men have competed against each other for masculine bragging rights since the beginning of time. Although today’s sports are more structured, the battle for proving oneself to be the supreme man has continued. But there are three aspects of proving one’s masculinity in male sports. One is through stats. Players who let their work ethic and performance speak for themselves are the ultimate level of masculinity. However, players who succumb to fights and pissing matches with other players are usually arrogant or insecure. Either way, both these characteristics are, in my opinion, signs of weakness and stupidity. Finally, there are the guys who use assistants like steroids to boost their muscles, stats, and masculine statuses. These guys are the ultimate level of cheats and phonies, which are two words that oppose what it means to be masculine.

Take Dustin Pedroia, second baseman for the Boston Red Sox, as an example for the ideal type of masculinity in male sports. He is one of the shortest players in all of Major League Baseball. For some, this would be an insecurity that they would need to overcompensate for with fights. Pedroia, however, lets his hard work and impressive stats hold their own as signs of his masculinity. If he can perform at such a high level being shorter than everyone else, he has already proven his masculinity.

Then there are guys like Richard Sherman, who plays for the Seattle Seahawks. Sherman initiates on field arguments as well as on camera bashings. He is notorious for his arrogance. He always engages in trash talk and pushing matches on the field. He also is known for his postgame interview with Erin Andrews after the Seahawks won the NFC Championship game in 2013. In the interview, he loudly explained that he is the best cornerback in the game. If you have to tell the world that you are the best, you are either arrogant to the point of ignorance or so deeply insecure that you fake arrogance to overcompensate for your insecurities.

Finally, you have players like Alex Rodriquez of the New York Yankees. He succumbed to steroids to boost his stats and masculinity, but it had the opposite affect on his reputation. Although he probably had enough merit in his natural talent and masculinity, he will always be known as the guy who used steroids to improve his game and masculinity.

The main takeaway here is that masculinity will always be a necessity in male sports, but there are right and wrong ways to prove your masculinity. Just for the record, Papelbon did it the wrong way and he was suspended for the rest of the season.