I’m not a huge sport fan on the whole, but as a wife and mom to two guys who are – I can pop in and out of games, follow Fantasy league play, and know enough about the Blue Jays to fill my oldest in on things he missed during late night games while he was sleeping. This guy is pretty invested in his team, and so when the Jays missed the chance to head to the World Series there were definitely some watery eyes in our house.
Even though the Jays weren’t battling to win in the final series, I found myself checking in as the Cubs and Indians faced off in game 7 – parking it on the couch in the 9th inning as I waited to see the outcome of an incredible pairing. It took 10 innings for the Cubs to end their 108 year drought. One hundred and eight years of disappointment. What a long and discouraging journey that must have been for players and fans alike.
Yet as that last ball was thrown to first base it seemed that the long years of disappointment disappeared, and the instantaneous joy on the field was palpable. Jumping, hugs, high fives, and tears. Yes…tears. For winners and losers alike. There were undoubtedly tears for fans, some joy-filled, and others sorrowfully noting another opportunity missed.
I love catching the end of high stakes games. It’s always the last two minutes I check in for. Those are magical moments. The fist pumps, affectionate embraces, goofy grins…the vivid displays of male emotion are pretty captivating. As equally touching to view are the guys on the losing side. The heads hung low, shoulders slumped, hands wiping away tears.
Our men live in a world that has long associated crying and expressing emotion as an overtly ‘feminine’ trait, rather than a human trait. It often connotes weakness, shame, inadequacy, and a sense that one is ‘too sensitive.’ Men have adaptively and in many ways out of necessity learned that they need to shut down, diminish, ignore, or numb their inner experiences for fear of ridicule, shame, and judgement. This is not the way it’s supposed to be.
There is much I don’t understand or feel connected to about sport, but what I absolutely adore is that these men teach my kids that it is okay for boys to cry. As a parent to a growing boy, I relish any opportunity where my children can learn that experiencing things deeply doesn’t make them weak, it makes them alive. It is okay to feel deeply. It is okay to express delight, to hug, be close, celebrate, whoop and holler – and it is equally okay to express sadness, disappointment, and sorrow. Not just anger, though we see a fair amount of that in sport too with golf clubs broken, sticks thrown, and punches doled out. But when men walk off the court, the field, or the ice with tears in their eyes, they remind my sport loving boy that he too feels. And that it is okay to be a man that cries.
If you are someone who wants to explore what letting tenderness, hurt, joy, sorrow, and all that’s in between out – and don’t happen to be an MLB star who can let it fly on the field, feel free to give our office a call or pop a message and we can talk about how to make it safer for you to feel as freely as the stars we watch weep on screen.
And a big shout out to Chicago, you guys have sure earned this one.