In the discussion thread: Why are some guys jocks and some not. What makes the difference? [View all]
Response to Denninmi (Original post)
Fri Aug 24, 2012, 03:11 AM
radicalliberal (616 posts)
15. I truly wish I had cause to not believe what I'm about to say, but the reason why some boys ...
... go out for sports is because they think they are proving their manhood by participating in them. In fact, masculinity is often defined solely in terms of physical strength and athletic prowess. Alas, machismo is alive and well (I dare say thriving). Since the popular culture is saturated with sports, nonathletic boys are often considered to be "unmanly" and "feminized" and are likely to be bullied simply for having no interest in them.
To add injury to insult, the traditional approach to mandatory boys' P.E. historically has been exclusively centered around sports, but often without any instruction in the sports themselves! In none of my P.E. classes was there even any mention of exercise programs, not even bodybuilding. Nonathletic boys were often penalized for not already knowing something they would never be taught by their coaches. There's no denying that some of the worst physical bullying has taken place in junior high and high school gyms. To me the very idea of forcing nonathletic boys to participate in sports is boneheaded and counterproductive, not to mention cruel.
I'm not denigrating participation in sports. If a boy will feel better about himself by participating in a sport, by all means he should do so; and I say more power to him. But I would tell those who want to impose the institutionalized bullying of "sports only" P.E. on nonathletic boys (instead of supporting genuine fitness programs that actually work) to please leave those kids alone.
If I sound bitter, so be it. This was my personal experience, as well as that of other nonathletic guys I've talked to over the decades. I respect athletes for what they do as athletes; but neither will I place all of them on pedestals, regardless of the way they treat others away from the game. I grew up with a now former university football player who was an arrogant bully; but even though he was a contemptible jerk, his social standing did not suffer at all. Many of the local fans seemed to believe that any kid who excelled at a sport could not possibly be anything less than noble.
And now I'll make a positive statement. High levels of physical fitness can be achieved without participating in sports. In fact, the most efficient way to get into shape is by getting on an exercise program. Several years ago I took up bodybuilding at a local health club. I even hired a personal trainer and continue to do so today. I love working out! I love the feeling of being completely exhausted when I drive back home. I was scrawny when I was a kid, but I've achieved muscular development that has amazed me in the last several years. All the personal trainers have liked me because they know I work hard. The mandatory P.E. of my youth had done absolutely nothing for me, except to teach me to fear coaches and athlete classmates.
I'm both amazed and puzzled as to why I didn't join a health club when I was young. I'd urge nonathletic guys who need to exercise, especially those who had negative P.E. experiences, to consider joining a health club. Health clubs aren't the exclusive property of athletes. My own health club experience has even been psychologically therapeutic.
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