Why do guys get so mad when you diss football?
While many women were fawning over Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes speech, you know, the one where she shaded football and UFC, many men were mad.
No, they weren’t mad because she dissed Donald Trump, or because she spent way too much time on stage. They were mad because she had the audacity to talk smack about football.
Have you ever noticed that American men get super defensive about their favorite sport? It’s weird, because most women have no problem making fun of their favorite reality shows, or trashy romance novels, but men can’t get in on the joke when it comes to football. Why?
We asked Jack Myers, author of The Future of Men: Masculinity in the 21st Century, why men get weirdly defensive – and pissed – when someone disses football.
Unsurprisingly, Jack said the main reason men are so protective over football has to do with fragile masculinity. Specifically, those men who feel like women are “taking away” things from them. You know, by having equal rights and all that jazz.
“So much of men’s traditional dominance is being eroded and society seems to be getting better because of it,” explains Jack. “Men want to hold on as tightly as they can to what they feel is theirs.”
In America, football is so closely related to being “manly.” It’s the type of thing a conservative dad would use as a gauge to decide if his son was someone he should be proud of or not. Unfortunately, football has come under lots of scrutiny lately due to players’ concussions and injuries, not to mention scandals occurring in players’ personal lives off of the field. This has left the future of the sport as we know it uncertain, and has left football-loving bros shaking in their cleats.
“Men feel like this is their last bastion of masculinity and it’s slipping away from [them] so [they] better fight back,” says Jack.
Our CMO/Co-founder of Galore, Nick Pastula, has a different reasoning as to why he gets offensive when someone dismisses football as something “non-intellectual” or “inherently brutish.”
“I think any generalization – about football or anything – leads me to believe that you don’t have enough information about what you’re talking about,” he says.
Nick believes that he feels such an allegiance to football because it reminds him of his childhood. He played football for 20 years.
“When I partake in it now as a fan, it’s almost de-stressing…it’s a level of comfort,” says Nick. “I think that’s what a lot of men get out of it. From that point, it’s positive. When guys get a little crazy, in terms of the fandom or fantasy football, that’s an extreme thing. As we see culturally, extremes in anything are bad.”
While Nick’s points about nostalgia make sense, Jack still sees football as different because of the violence involved in the game and the fact that it’s one of the only sports in the US–other than wrestling– that is severely dominated by men in terms of players and fans.
“I think [European men with soccer] is different, because soccer is just not as violent a sport,” he says. “To me, it’s more nationalistic. [In America], while there’s tremendous loyalty, we also see more fans with fantasy football and different types of connections to the sport that’s not built around loyalty.”
When I asked Jack to give advice for guys who get angrily defensive about football, he had a pretty simple answer: “get a life.”
“It’s not about who you are as a person, it’s not about your identity, it’s about sports,” he says. “If you don’t acknowledge the problems with the sport, if you don’t work to make it better for everybody, including the players, then you’re out of touch with reality.”