There is something about sports that changes heterosexual men and their perceptions about emotions. For a large majority of men (myself included) the phrases “real men don’t cry” and “stop acting like a girl” were bandied about with sufficient regularity as we grew up that we consider such behaviour to be quite normal. These stereotypes about what men should and shouldn’t do were reinforced by our fathers, uncles, cousins, friends and schoolmates.
But ironically enough, sports has always been one area of life where men could openly cry (when their team loses),
hug known or unknown men (when their team wins)
or pat another man on the bum (in a large majority of American sports)
In summary, sports gives certain men an outlet to release the emotions that they usually keep suppressed and bottled inside them.
A fairly recent addition to the emotional outlet is the phrase “man crush” to the urban lexicon. Urban Dictionary defines a man crush as “When a straight man has a “crush” on another man, not sexual but kind of idolising him.” or “A man who has a crush on another man without sexual attraction”.
Many male Arsenal fans are in full man crush mode at the moment and are torn between declaring their affections for Mesut Ozil or Aaron Ramsey. Ozil has blended seamlessly into his new team, dishing out assists like KFC does chicken and Ramsey has started the season like the proverbial house on fire.
Other popular recent man crushes include Real Madrid’s Xabi Alonso and Juventus’s Andrea Pirlo, although that may have some link to the fact that both have two of the best beards in football as well as being classy distributors of the ball.
Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp has been the man crush of choice for the past couple of seasons as he guided his band of talented players to the Bundesliga crown (twice) as well as the Champions League final last season.
In keeping with the spirit of this post, I’m off to kiss and hug my son and tell him I love him. I’ll also tell him it’s okay to cry if Liverpool loses.