Why Men Are Dumb…

8 04 2011

When it comes to sports, I like to consider myself more of a player than a fan. It is certainly more enjoyable to play a sport than to watch one. But it is the sad truth of life that not all men (and women too, but it will be clear why just men) can appear on ESPN as athletes and coaches. Because of such unfulfilled fantasies or maybe some of us like being fans, men opt out for the next best thing: Watch ESPN all day long. One thing that I find particularly annoying and pointless are sports conferences, and it puzzles me (yes, intellectually) how men can sit there watching (or listening) to obvious conferences and debates with no particular substance. The ones before a game have some predictive value, but the ones after (and most other reporting conferences) are irritatingly aimless (One that does escape this critique for its comical value is the historic Iverson practice interview). Stanley Fish captures such absurdity in his NY Times Column article, “Talking to No Purpose,” when he describes a halftime conversation during the Men’s NCAA Final Four game:

….a reporter asked the Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun how his team had managed to build up a 10-point lead. He replied, more or less, We played good defense, although we didn’t get enough rebounds. What will you have to do in the second half?, the reporter queried brightly. Add rebounds to the good defense was the answer.

“And how are you going to do that?”

Calhoun smiled a little smile and said: “Get the ball off the boards.”

The reporter nodded as if she had just been told something, but of course she hadn’t been. Getting the ball off the boards is just a longer version of “get rebounds.”

Fish does note that the point of why we do this or have such conversation is to complete a “ritual performance”,  “cheerlead” and encourage, or “let off steam.” As he points out, we supposedly do this in normal everyday non-sports related conversations:

….my wife always says, “Drive carefully,” and I say “I will” rather than “What for?” or “I like taking chances.” In the winter, we say to each other “keep warm,” as if what was required was an act of the will. No one replies, “I am determined to be cold.”

Of course, this is not really the reason why men are dumb as my title implies nor do I deny the relative value in speaking ritualistic words such as “Be safe” or “Good job!”, but more often than not, I prefer to be laconic rather than wind words for the purpose of ritual. As for sports, the fat lady has sung when the final whistle blows, not when the reporter stops asking obvious questions to which we already know the answer.

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2 responses

20 04 2011
charles

i hope i’m not being out of line here, since you are 30 yr old wise man, but that last sentence leaves a lot to be desired, grammatically

20 04 2011
Paul Park

Not out of line. Just wrong. I kid. One minor error which has now been corrected. I am impressed that an American has caught such an error. Did not know they taught grammar here ;).

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