ESPN’s normally excellent “Sports Reporters” show joined the ranks of GLAAD, Organizing For America (OFA), Out2Enroll and others in yet another attempt by the cultural left to redefine what it means to be a man in this country in 2013. At least, this was the apparent goal of panelist Pablo Torre, who ended the show in his Parting Shot (all four panelist get a parting shot each week) with a soliloquy titled “Redefining Masculinity.” It can be searched and found under that name in fact, and for what it’s worth, you will notice that Torre could easily be a stand in for Ethan Krupp as Pajama Boy, but would not “blend” on the set of Duck Dynasty at all.
“My story of the year did not arrive with a single blaring headline” began Torre, stretching the very notion of a top story of the year by insisting “instead, there was a procession of news about NFL players and concussions, and athletes finally coming out of the closet, and bullying by teammates and coaches – that all forced us to consider the same question: what does it really mean to be a man?”
What had forced us all to consider that question of what it means to be a man was more likely the Duck Dynasty controversy – and the emergence of Robertson as a national figure and traditional values icon – juxtaposed against the emergence of Pajama Boy as an ObamaCare spokesperson and all around hip young liberal. It had apparently escaped Torre, or perhaps he was simply in denial, that the nation had come down decisively on the side of Robertson in this battle of the redefined guy.
“In 2013, we learned that real men, like football players…need not ignore the illnesses tormenting them inside their heads” said Torre, intentionally conflating the issue of potential permanent brain injury with the broader topic of defining manhood down. “We learned that real men, like basketball players, need not deny their true selves” he added, referring to the coming out of Jason Collins. He then segued to Jonathan Martin v. Richie Incognito – and a scandal at Rutgers – by connoting “we learned that real men, from college athletes to pros, need not tolerate emotional abuse to the point of suffering.”
Of course, in addition to the astonishing PR win by the Duck Dynasty clan over A&E and GLAAD, all indications are that many NFL players, and the Dolphins, have come down squarely on the side of Richie Incognito versus Martin, and Collins remains extremely un-employed as an NBA player. And yet, the very young Torre was declaring a victory for the ages for the new definition of men:
“Sports may be premised on certain traditions of masculinity…toughness, courage, strength” said Torre almost apologetically, but added confidently that “this year, we began refining that vocabulary. We learned that some old weaknesses, as defined by generations upon generations upon generations, need not be weaknesses at all.”
Without a doubt, Torre is onto something that our culture, sports included, is going through — a re-examination of what masculinity is. His conclusions, however, seem convoluted. The gliteratti may be celebrating Jason Collins and Jonathan Martin – but the nation is not. This is what happens when Pajama Boy arrogantly tries to change things that have been accepted for generation upon generation upon generation.