Nothing sporting about cry-babies

Call me old fashion or even a male chauvinist, but I still believe in opening doors for women, ordering the wine when out for dinner (even though I don’t know pino grigio from peanut butter) and leading on the dance floor.

I believe in equality and mutual respect between the sexes, but don’t apologize for my recognition of the differences between men and women. And damn, am I happy about those differences.

One aspect of this wonderful heterogeneity is that women are more overtly emotional than men. It’s OK for a woman to cry in public. Not so much for a man.

So why does it seem that hard-tailed male sports figures have decided that it is perfectly acceptable to blubber like a wuss at a press conference or during an interview after an unspectacular victory or ordinary loss?

Matt Kenseth breaking down and weeping after the rain gods dropped a gift wrapped Daytona 500 in his lap and A Rod’s choke-up at his juicing admission spectacle are the latest shameful performances by presumably strapping sports heroes. We’ve had to endure Mike Shanahan’s hysterical departure from the Denver Broncos, Roger Federer’s histrionic Australian Open defeat and Brett Favre’s melodramatic ‘retirement’, and many, many others over recent years.

The root source of our current predicament can be traced back to the second coming of Dick Vermeil. Vermeil, the long time Philadelphia Eagles head coach, left professional football for a number of years and then accomplished a spectacular come back leading the Saint Louis Rams along with a no-name retread quarterback from NFL Europe, Kurt Warner, to victory in Super Bowl XXXIV. So notoriously fragile was Vermeil that he seeming would dissolve into shuttering sobs after something as mundane as a successful 4th and long.

The press found this endearing. A head football coach, someone that conventional wisdom dictated should be tough, hard boiled and stolid, could be unabashedly sensitive and in touch with his emotions.

Ever since, grown sportsmen have seen fit to be increasing demonstrative of their inner feelings. A development I find profoundly disturbing and it is now high time to slap these whey-faced girlymen up side the head and put a stop to this foolishness.

There are very few circumstances in daily life much less in sports that I can conjure up that warrant a man turning on the water works and none involve winning or losing a game, being traded, released or fired, or embarrassing admissions like infidelity, true sexual orientation or injecting one’s backside with a needle full of rip off.

Guys should save the public tears for things that are truly important, the delivery room after the first bellow of a newborn child, walking the aisle with a daughter on your arm, or standing graveside to the mournful strains of The Old Rugged Cross.

There’s no crying in professional sports or there shouldn’t be and the milksops that now proliferate are an embarrassment to most emotionally stable, grounded in reality, red-blooded sports fans.

You wanna yowl like a 12-year-old boy after a game seven World Series loss, well then you had better not be old enough to shave and pouting in the dugout at Williamsport.

Lou Gehrig, the iron man of Major League Baseball, held the consecutive games played record, 2,130, for more than half a century. He didn’t miss a day for over 13 years. The streak was only broken when Gehrig contracted amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an incurable disease that would eventually kill him and forever afterward be known as his disease.

In one of the most stirring addresses ever in sports, knowing he was dying, Gehrig bid farewell before an overflowing Yankee Stadium crowd in 1939. Overcome with emotion, Babe Ruth standing nearby, Gehrig paused for several moments before starting out saying, ‘Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.’

Perhaps today’s sportsman could learn a thing or two from Mr. Gehrig. Things seemingly discarded in today’s facebooked world, understatement, composure and the virtues of stoicism.

Gregory S. McTaggart

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