Appeasing the Inner Viking

By James H. English

I was recently invited to a hockey game, and although I don't much care for sports, I must say that I was compelled by the thought of watching a bunch of hunky men with removable teeth wave their sticks in the air and try to score. Call me crazy. Or call me stupid, because I declined the offer and wound up spending the night alone, in my apartment, watching a particularly sappy rerun of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, and consoling myself with a mountain of popcorn and chocolate (the two always go together...a sweet vs. salty thing, I suppose).

I've never understood the mass appeal of watching sports. Participating is something different; rolling around with Bobby Buff Bod on the football field or basketball court, or even better, the wrestling mat, is certainly worth the effort. But when you're just watching...now, that's plain boring. So why do people get so into it? Is it a sexual thing? A way to get in touch with one's masculinity (yes, we are including you lesbians in with this one)? Or does it just appeal to some sort of inner-viking warrior? What's the deal here?

From the homosexual male, and to some extent, the heterosexual female view, sitting on the sidelines and gawking is understandable. I mean, sports games are kind of like male porno films after all (I know you aren't turning red...we all know you've got a copy of 'Punish the Bad Boy' hidden in that fake dictionary conveniently tucked away in your socks drawer). There's a whole bunch of guys running around with each other, playing with sticks and balls, groaning and moaning, pouring sweat, while people in the background shout, cheer, or give directions, and some guy plays cheesy muzak...oh dear, I seem to have gotten myself all worked up. Anyway, I think you get the point and the picture, and quite possibly agree, unless you're like my friend Samantha, who really is just a hetero-male trapped in a very gruff female body.

Sammy, you see, is just a tad bit masculine. In fact, she makes Steven Seagal look like a pansy. I thinks she's probably stronger than him, too. So I guess sports just keeps her in touch with her masculine self, just like the rest of the straight-male/lesbian world (is that a generalization? Naw!). Really, straight men bond to this stuff. They get their overweight, beer-guzzlin' selves together in front of a television, booze it up, choke down some pretzels or burgers or whatever else it is they eat, and shout at the idiots who obviously should never have made it to the major leagues.

"Awww! What a dork! I can't believe he fumbled! Who the hell drafted him?"

"Yeah, heh heh. What a dork! My grandma coulda caught that!"

Are these people for real? And the scary thing is, I know plenty of queers who do the same thing. And we are definitely a group who needs to keep in touch with our male selves...at least, that seems evident to me. We all have a male and female side, and most of us queer kids are very much in touch with our little Nancy-girl selves.

Mine happens to be on permanent PMS, so I need my male side to balance her out. Unfortunately, my male self is not unlike King Lear...brooding, pensive, and more than a little insane, so I guess I'm just screwed, and that's why I don't like sports, preferring instead to keep in touch with my male side by working on my car, refusing to shave but every three days, and belching on occasion. But that's off the track.

I really think sports appeals to the gladiator spirit in most people. That is to say, the inner-viking, who happens to be too afraid to participate in the blood-letting with the big boys. No, I'm serious. Just look at how violent these people get when their chosen team is losing, or when their favorite player screws up a catch or a pitch or a whatever it is they do when they're doing it. Even golf fans go on berserk rampages (I'd hate to be a caddie; golfers throw temper tantrums worthy of Sean Penn when they can't sink it in the hole).

Some people even put on war paint...even though I personally think they do it just because they like the feel of the make-up, which fingers them (no pun intended) as closet drag-queens, or wanna-be mimes. Still, in a day and age where people no longer go out to rape and pillage and hack-hack-to-bits for fun (unless you live in the inner cities of the North East), people need to find some outlet for their more primal urges. And because most people are really just big babies (imagine not wanting to get your knees all busted up! I mean, what is it with people today), they prefer to sit on the sidelines and live vicariously through other, bigger people.

Whatever the reason, I just don't understand the national appeal, the obsessions, and the money put into it. Not that I wouldn't mind being an athletic supporter, but I wouldn't want to have to pay for it. And I certainly could find better things to do, like catch a Grace Jones video. Talk about keeping in touch with your masculine side! Or stay in and watch Dr. Quinn, again.

Hmmm...I wonder when the next hockey game is here...?

James H. English, 26, is an employee of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and an occasional student at Florida State University, when the two are getting along well. He can be e-mailed at jheng@freenet.scri.fsu.edu.
General information: Jeff Walsh
Design and HTML: Jase Pittman-Wells
©1996 Oasis. All Rights Reserved.