The Manliest Sport

To me, the most stereotypically ‘manly’ sport is probably football. The sport is notoriously rough. Tackling, a move of complete energy, strength, and power, is a pillar of the game. Even the gear of the game validates this emphasis on ‘classic’ masculinity. A helmet and pads along the body are reminiscent of Medieval  armor, and once trapped inside these coverings, it seems that the players have also clothed themselves in hyper-determination. As stated in the article, the culture of football on the professional level demands bizarre, harmful levels of  ‘manliness’:  “And let’s not forget the issue of concussions within the NFL, no doubt exacerbated by a culture that convinces players they must push through debilitating pain and injury, because their manhood (and livelihood) seems to depend on how quickly they get back on the field.” Despite important health risks, these men have the ‘strength’ to get back on the field quickly, which displays the traditionally masculine qualities of bravery and determination.

In addition, football may seem so traditionally manly because it is usually an all-man sport. Other sports, while emphasizing strength and determination, are not as seemingly limited to just men. Basketball, lacrosse, tennis, golf, and soccer are divided into teams for men and women, which contrasts with football, which is usually men only. Football is seen as so ‘masculine’ by nature, that only in the watered-down version, flag-football, can women play it.

I think it is important to think about other sports that showcase ‘manliness’ in different ways as well. Dance, color guard, and ice skating are traditionally thought of as a feminine sports since they focus quite a bit on the ideas of grace and beauty. Yet, mixed with those ideas is lean muscle and an incredible amount of control. While these sports are not thought of masculine in the traditional sense, there is no greater platform for displaying the structural strength of the male body. In each of these sports, there are often a lot of lifts that must be done, as well as unfathomable balance and coordination. Turning strength into control, as required to match big movements to something as fluid like music,  surely rivals the strength used on the football field.