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So It Goes

Give Man a Ball
by Jason Love


June 19, 2005

Today, I defend men. Typically, I refrain from doing so because men are, as a rule of thumb, pigs. The expression "rule of thumb" comes from a time when a man was considered discreet to beat his family with a switch no wider than his thumb.

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What do you get when you combine "man" and "men"? Mean! Just the same, I have witnessed an injustice in the way men are treated and must address it here. I am talking about the flack men take for watching sports.

Ladies, men need sports. It isn't just a pastime or trifling indulgence; it is a real, live need like eating or sleeping or peeing in the bushes. Yes, it is quite like peeing in the bushes. You see, men are more similar to dogs than they are to, say, angels. When a man sees a ball in flight, he must stop to observe. It would be painful on a molecular level for him to refrain. Like dogs, man is mesmerized by the projectile. So long as there is a ball in motion, he's happy.

A man is equally content watching a golf ball as he is watching a basketball as he is watching a shuttlecock. Well, badminton hasn't come into its own yet. Someone tied a ribbon to the back of the ball. Much too frou-frou.

So long as a ball or ball-like object is in play, a man cannot be expected to function normally. The actual game being played is immaterial. I've watched cricket for hours and still don't know what they're trying to accomplish. That both sides want to win is enough for me. If I were sufficiently desperate, I'd watch competitive Tiddlywinks, especially if the players were permitted to shout between tiddles.

As a hockey nut, I am hypnotized by the puck, a flattened version of a ball designed to slide on ice. Because ice is not indigenous to California, the puck hasn't gained the acclaim of a basketball or baseball, but just you wait. I've been awake at 3 a.m. watching hockey, eyes red, head empty, three hours from reporting to work, and totally unable to stop. I'm like Superman in the presence of Kryptonite -- Need help...Can't

I've had hockey binges whereby I videotape several games and watch them in order. My therapist says that I shouldn't binge on hockey because I don't need to fear future hockey deprivation. If I'm not careful, he's going to commit me to Puckheads Anonymous. So it goes.

I don't know how the afterlife bodes for a man when he knows more about Derek Jeter's batting average than he does the 9 or 10 Commandments; but his need to know that batting average is every bit as real as his need to lay down at the end of the day. And if there is something wrong with that, then there's something wrong with his basic physical constitution.

"A-ha," says woman. "Now we're getting somewhere."

When a man feels like he is missing an important game, he grows nervous and fidgety like a cocaine junky. It isn't right. Whatever he is doing is less meaningful than his need to know the score. And who scored. And the looks on the other players faces when he scored. If a man is kept from sports long enough, he will develop hives or, worse yet, join a bridge club.

Having laid this foundation, ladies, it is only fair that you give man his ball. It's silly, I know. No matter who wins the championship, no matter who drinks from the Holy Grail, it will all start over again next season.

Granted, there are chores he should do first. The grass won't cut itself, the kids can't drive themselves to practice, and the dinner fairy isn't going to leave food on the table. But barring these needs, I beseech you, as representative for the unsophisticated male creature who knows what it means to be entranced by a ball in flight, cut your man a little slack. Let him watch the ball fly around for a while. Let him participate in the tribal ceremony because it is, for him, drama of the highest order and a necessary evil of having two X-chromosomes.

And when the game is over, he'll return to you fresh and invigorated. He will be grateful that you allowed him that simple excursion from his workaday grind, and he'll be ready to do whatever you ask of him. Unless, of course, there are a bunch of men on TV talking about sports, in which case you'll probably lose him again.


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Copyright 2005 Jason Love
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