I Watch Sports Because It’s a Socially Acceptable Way for Men to Express Their Emotions
As a man in America, there’s nothing I love more than to kick back with the boys, throw on the big game, and allow all the pain and anger I’ve bottled up over the years flow out of me in an awesome wave. If my team does well, it means I’m worthy of love. If my team fails, it’s because my dad walked out on us when I was 11.
Before my Hinge dates ghost me, they often tell me I should seek therapy for my anger issues. They say there are better ways to channel your unresolved trauma than through hyper-masculine displays of aggression that conform to outdated patriarchal stereotypes. It’s not worth getting thrown out of The Gem Saloon every time your team loses. My male friends have all received lifetime bans from The Gem Saloon after hyper-masculine displays of aggression triggered by a costly interception or buzzer-beater shot (but really the result of suppressed anger over getting cut from the JV baseball team in 10th grade).
Watching the sports game with the boys is one of the few times we can all be open and vulnerable about how we feel. Sometimes I cry when my team wins because my mother wasn’t good at showing me affection, and my boys all console me because it’s totally normal behavior to get this emotional over sports. If my team is down and I see a fan of the other team cheering, I instinctively assault him because he represents everything I don’t like about myself. My boys jump in because he also represents everything they don’t like about themselves. This is the kind of deep male bonding women simply cannot understand.
When we’re not together watching the game, me and the boys are talking about the game in group chats. In fact, all my group chats only exist 1) as a conduit to discuss matters related to my fantasy sports leagues, 2) as a platform to mock, demean, or otherwise ridicule my friends’ fantasy sports teams / real-life teams, 3) to share awful stock market tips and Andrew Tate quotes, and 4) to attack anyone who doesn’t stick to the first three group chat use cases.
For example, my boy hit the group chat once to say he’s been feeling depressed since his girlfriend broke up with him. He admitted he’s struggled with intimacy most of his life, and self-medicated with drugs and alcohol to suppress feelings of loneliness. As a good friend, I called him soft, changed the topic, then took him to the bar to get blackout drunk and watch football. Unfortunately, his team lost on a last-second field goal, and later that night he got arrested for beating up a homeless man and trying to set fire to his ex-girlfriend’s house. He’s currently serving a 6 month sentence in county jail.
That incident was traumatic for all the boys. We finally decided to explore our emotions in depth after our team won a playoff game. As it turns out, half of us miss our ex, the other half hate our dads, and one of us is actually gay. It was good to get those feelings out in the open, as it gave me enough strength to ignore them for another week. Until my team plays again.