Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The World Cup and male objectification

It's clear I've been spending too much time with foreigners, because I've been watching "futbol" (soccer to civilized human beings) religiously during this Cup. Incidentally, I've realized that everyone I ever cheer for loses. Not having a team, because I've never watched soccer before, I chose to cheer on the countrymen of my forefathers in Poland, and they lose 2-nil. Then I figure I should root for American, and they lose 3-nil. So I've decided I will cheer for no one in general.

Anyway, comments following a recent post in a friend's blog on the creepy objectification of girls in dance recitals got me thinking about the subject of sports and male objectification. While it's definately not the same as women's objectification (men are wanted for powerful bodies for pulvarizing oppenents, instead of turning people on) and I would argue it's not nearly as bad (men's objectification leads them to be heroes (Jordan, Elway, Ruth, etc.), while women's objectification often leads them to be denigrated as unintelligent objects who offer nothing but looks), it really is a strong cultural phenomenon.

A great example is going on right now. As I'm sure most of my readers pay absolutely no attention to sports, Ben Roethlisberger, Super-Bowl winning quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was in a motorcycle accident the other day and was in serious condition for a day or so (kids, always wear your helmets). Anyway, he's now in "fair" condition, but all of the updates on his condition during the Cup games focused on how his injuries will or will not hamper his ability to play football. Very little attention is giving to how he as a human being is doing, but there have already been several updates covering the fact that his precious knees are ok to play, so we needn't worry too much. I mean, who cares about a mouth full of broken teeth, a broken nose, and a 9-inch laceration on the back of his head? You don't need a nose or teeth to throw a ball. But this further raises the point that perhaps I'm not right in assuming men's objectification affords them status and respect, as no matter how many Super Bowls rings Big Ben wins, we still only want to know if he'll be able to win another one, not if he's going to live a healthy and happy life.

This motorcycle accident is not covered on t.v. because this person assumably cannot throw a football with a very good spiral
Oh, and just for the record, this is actually a sculpture, so don't be too grossed out


Penn State Punk said...

You're wrong, I live in PA, and many, if not all of the newspaper accounts I have read have talked about his injuries, with football related stuff either being not mentioned or a very small part of the article. Not one (let alone "several") account I have read talks about his "precious little knees"....

You're blog, write what want... tell whatever story fits your purposes... but the articles I have read don't mesh with what you are saying.

Dawn of the Spine said...

I also really don't believe men are "objectified" in sports.
I kind of think your argument is weak...
but I like where your going..about being aware of it..anyways.

Woz said...

Wow...my blog has caused discussion to happen. Nice.

Carrie--The male objectification argument is probably pretty weak...it's stilll being formed in my head. This was just kind of somehting I was thinking about and throwing out there.

PSP--you're probably right. Being out in the Pennsylvania area, there's probably much more extensive coverage of the whole incident. As I mentioned in the article, I was basing these thoughts largely off of the "breaking news" updates on ESPN2. It just struck me as especially strange that when they report all of the injuries he has as head-related (they listed broken nose, chiped or missing teeth, and a 9-inch laceration to the back of the head) that they would then make sure to let us know that his knees are ok. It just seemed to be quite glaring the way they made sure to note this, not because of what had happened to him, but because of the fact that knee injuries to quarterbacks are so costly and career-threatening (Carsen Palmer comes to mind, or the idiotic Vikings trading the runner-up MVP candidate from two years ago for a second-round pick because of fear about his knee). But anyway, it's probably related much more to the fact that I was busy thinking about it; you know, everything's a nail to the kid with the hammer.

In any case, I'm just elated that people are both A)reading my blog, and 2) angrily telling me I'm wrong. It makes me feel important :).

Penn State Punk said...

I think you are becoming more correct.... or maybe I have just been listening more. While I still maintain initial reports were largely medical not football, that has changed. Now that its clear he will be fine, almost all of the discussion is what the crash will do to his football career.