Boys, Girls, and Sports Blogs

Did anyone notice it was chilly outside this last week? Boy, I sure did!

That bit of news-anchor-worthy stupidity out of the way, it was a bit frigid, and I spent Saturday night locked indoors. I read, watched TV, the usual stuff. I also listened to the TrailBlazer game on Internet radio. And followed it on the SB TrailBlazer game thread. This was a mistake.

I'm from Portland, OR, and if you grow up in Portland you root for the Trail Blazers. (I resisted for a while, I hate jock culture, but I succumbed.) The Blazers are doing well this season, much better than anticipated. Blah blah blah, that's not the point. I'll get to it. I eventually do.

The game thread was 99% ridiculously boring. Go team go. The few jokes were all about how old the opponents were (NBA superstar Dirk Nowitzki being christened "Dirt" Nowitzki, as old as dirt, see what they did there?) Most of this inanity I attributed to the high level of post traffic. When there are 10 new posts a minute, every minute, there isn't much time to get a funny conversation going. Does sort of make you wonder why they bother. (That's part of the point; like I said, I'll get to that.)

Then a frequent contributing moniker wrote, at one time where the Blazers were a few points behind (in a see-saw game, where no team had a clear advantage), "the Blazers are playing like little girls."

That was moronic. That was offensive. I, as is my wont, called it out in my politest tone, suggesting the poster should have used "confused children" instead. After all, some little girls are quite talented at team sports. Exactly one poster agreed with me. Guess the poster's gender, why dontcha?

Now, I wasn't bothered by nobody else agreeing with me. It's a high-traffic game thread. I was bothered by that one poster who agreed, who self-identified as female, and I wondered what the hell she was doing there. (No other posters, out of 100 or so, self-identified as female, or had icons that suggested being female.) I also wondered what the hell anyone else was doing there. Or what I was.

A while back, Jesse put out a call for new TT contributors. He (I'm assuming he's a "he," it's the Internet, we all have the right to be whomever we want to be online) called for more women writers. I bloviated on the subject, which is what I do, and a small conversation ensued. I'm not proud of my ranting contributions to it. But the notion has stuck in my head. Why are sports blogs overwhelmingly male? What's the point of a sports blog, anyway? Why join in?

In my small time participating here at TT, I've learned a few things about baseball I didn't know before. Which is what I enjoy about baseball; learning more. It was my favorite sport as a kid (yes, even as a Portlander); I came back to it when I moved to Minnesota, and I've found it rewarding ever since. The more you learn, the more interesting the game becomes. This is true of most pastimes, I imagine; maybe not driveway-salting or toilet-plunging, but most. And I've enjoyed the game threads, which are enthusiastic when the Twins do well and funny/randomly nonsensical when the Twins stink.

Why would anyone participate in a high-traffic game thread where all anybody does is go "noooo" or "WOOT! yes" and no conversations can be had? I suspect it's a male thing. (I promised I'd get to the point eventually. You didn't believe me, did you? Oh, wait, you stopped reading 300 words ago.)

Big, popular sports like men's basketball and baseball appeal to men who need masculine validation. They can feel as though rooting for the winning team makes them tough and strong. Note that I said "big, popular sports." There's no such thing as a high-traffic game thread for lacrosse. And the NFL is biggest of all. Because it's the biggest. Guys who feel the need for this sort of vicarious ego-stroking are drawn to what others think is the coolest thing for guys to be drawn to. It's very lemming-like.

Of course, women can be lemmings, too. We all can; human beings are a very unintelligent design. Women, though, aren't generally going to boost their self-esteem by cheering for particular mucho macho manly men in colorful pajamas to Dominate and Impose Their Will To Win on some other people all far more talented and knowledgeable about the game in question than the average bystander.

It goes for non-game threads, too. What's the ceiling on Sports Prospect A, with numbers and stats of this or that? I say he's going to achieve level X. You say he's going to achieve level Y. Let's rumble, and whichever of us trumps the other in rhetoric is the true muscled-out studbucket!

Again, I think this is a male thing. We are taught, from other, stupider males, quite early, that our worth is based on making others submit to our will. Blogs are perfect for this; we can go on and on arguing. (In actual fights, one of us loses rather quickly. I usually did.)

I wish I had a better ending for this rant. I don't; no snappy conclusion. I've just always been bored and annoyed, my entire life, by people who feel the psychological need to beat others rather than work with and relate to them. Men can do it; women can do it. On sports blogs, men do it a lot more. It's unfortunate, as I enjoy sports; they're as valid a hobby as anything else. I like rooting for the people in my favorite-colored pajamas, and learning more about how they do what they do.

But I don't assess my Guy-ness by how my favorite pajama colors are performing. And when others do, it turns me off a bit from sports. And sports blogs. I'm a bit disheartened by how low the caliber of commentary was on the TrailBlazer game thread, and a bit cheered (suck-up notice) by how, well, not-low the commentary is here on TT.

And that's all.

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