By now you've probably read the Scott Parker interview that was mentioned on Puck Daddy this morning. If you haven't, here are a few "gems" from it:
[Steve Moore] always thought he was better than everybody else. He went to Harvard, you know what, blow me. College grad. I never went to college, but I can kick your ass. I'll bring you right down to my IQ level if you want. I'll hit you about four times in the skull, that'll bring you right down.
He also rambles on about how vital enforcers are to the game, while also mentioning that they "don't generally get to play in the playoffs."
Come playoffs, whistles go away. Why is there two separate games? Why don't they just play that way the whole time instead of just letting them play like that in the playoffs, because the enforcers don't generally get to play in the playoffs. If Raffi Torres will go out and just [expletive] tool someone, and I can't go out and do it 'cause I'm up in the stands eating nachos – now I can't do anything.
That's right. The enforcer role in hockey is so important, so vital to the safety of the players and so crucial to 'policing the game' that he's "up in the stands eating nachos" during the most important part of the season. You don't have to be a fancy college grad to see the flaws in his logic.
But this interview highlights a lot of problems with sports and society in general.
Some people will say that no one really takes Parker seriously, so this isn't worth getting upset about. That's not true. While Parker's "college grad" comments have been mocked by pretty much everyone, the culture that Parker is talking about exists. Hockey, sports in general and society as a whole all have this ridiculous idea that "real men" don't solve problems with words. A "real man" doesn't care if you're smart. He'll punch you in the face until you admit that he's right. It's a stereotype that is present throughout the media, throughout society and throughout sports.
We live in a culture where many equate "toughness" with an archaic idea of "manliness." You see signs of it everywhere: Real men don't cry. Real men eat huge, unhealthy meals. Real men don't bother with "women's stuff" like cleaning the house or taking care of the children or having an emotional range that is above that of a small, uninformed child. You see it all over in the media and especially in advertising. Real men want to eat nothing but "Hungry Man" dinners, they want to ignore their wives and mother-in-laws and they love nothing more than being loud, obnoxious children. And women are supposed to love them for it. Women had better love them, because these "real man" expect sex, like, all the time.
It may seem like a stretch to go from Parker's interview to this view on society, but it's really not that far of a stretch at all. A lot of people believe that this ridiculous stereotype is how "real men" are supposed to act. And a lot of the people who believe that play professional sports. That's a problem.
The idea that if you're not a "real man" you're going to get beaten up is an idea that was also spoken by Cam Janssen last week:
"But you wanna be scary. You wanna put the fear of fuckin' God in people's eyes, and not just, 'Oh, I'm gonna beat you up' — no, 'I'm gonna catch you with your fuckin' head down and hurt you because you're not gonna know I'm comin', because I know how to hit.' Fighting guys is one thing because I know, 'Oh, I won't fight you. I'll just turtle.' Whatever. But if you have the puck and you know how to hit and you can hurt guys with hits like I know how to do, that's what puts the fear of God into people."
If someone won't fight you, you should catch that gut with his head down and hurt him. That's how men solve their problems.
That right there is why this ridiculous idea of "manliness" is bad for sports. Those big, tough "real men" who love to fight and hurt people are determined to hurt someone, especially someone who isn't ready to fight at a moment's notice and especially someone who may be too smart or too skilled to get into a fight with a goon. But goons will start the fights anyway, but taking cheapshots until someone "stands up" and fights them. That's the only way they can justify their existence in the game. They're not policing anything. If they were, they'd play in playoff games.
But it gets worse. This view of manliness is the exact reason why Russian and European players are considered "lazy," "selfish," "weak" and "enigmatic" by many. They're simply not as "manly" as some people think they should be and they're therefore considered lesser players. "Manliness" is primarily a North American stereotype and it's one that players from other countries don't fit into. A Russian will never be a "Good Canadian Kid."
This mentality is the same reason why garbage like While the Men Watch is allowed to exist. Women can't possibly fit into the "manly" role of a hockey player, so they're stuck watching on the sidelines and talking about shoes while "their men" enjoy the toughness of the game. Again, it's equating "toughness" with "manliness" that allows this to happen.
It also makes it nearly impossible for gay athletes to come out. A huge part of "being a man" and conforming to the stereotype is having sex with women. Gay men obviously do not do that so they're excluded from this view of manliness. Therefore, according to Cam Janssen, they must get hurt.
Oh, if he's suckin' cock, he's gettin' his ass kicked.
Imagine coming out to a team where at least one or two guys feels like Janssen does. For what it's worth, Janssen has since apologized. However, the culture that Janssen, Parker and many others live in still exists and it still makes life very difficult for a lot of people.