I like a bit of sports on TV, and I have to confess, in spite of my cynicism, that the Olympics has provided some pretty good sports viewing over the last week or so. Who could have failed to jump out of their seat and punch the air when the Americans beat the French in that swimming relay? Now that’s what I call a race, with all the added bonus of seeing France lose. I did notice with swimmers that, no matter what the competition, they don’t appear to find it necessary to pat each other on the behind in order to provide encouragement or a small recognition of a job well done. I have to say that the most disturbing aspect of the transition to watching sports in the US is the prevalence of the “pat on the butt” between men on the sports field. We certainly didn’t do that when we were growing up, I can tell you. It would no more have occurred to one of us to pat a teammate on the arse after he scored a goal than to rip off his shorts and attempt to penetrate him forcibly on the goal line.
There are so many other places to pat someone if you want to make such a gesture of congratulation. How about a pat on the back? Or the shoulder? Both are substantial body parts, very conveniently situated for patting and, I would suggest, better suited for conveying an unambiguous sentiment of positive reinforcement than someone’s buttocks. The thing about touching another man’s arse, no matter whether sports are involved or not, is that it’s, well, sort of gay. It’s not like there’s a good reason for it; if someone patted me on the arse my immediate reaction would be “What the fuck are you doing?” It would be like playing co-ed soccer and patting your female teammate on the breasts – it would come across as weird simply because there was no reason to pat there other than because you wanted to touch her breasts. Consequently the friendly breast-pat has never really taken off in mixed sporting circles.
It’s ironic really, because there are few environments so determinedly heterosexual as US sports. As far as I know, no active US baseball player has come out and declared himself to be gay becuase of the huge stigma attached to it (and not because there aren’t any). It’s an arena in which blokes go out of their way to be “manly” in the traditional sense, so what’s with the arse touching then? Big butch football and baseball players in skin-tight leggings all patting each other’s buttocks could hardly be more like some stereotypical “Tom Of Finland” gay scenario.
But when it comes to women’s beach volleyball, a sport where I would be quite happy to see the competitors engage in a bit of mutual arse-patting, what do I get? Nothing. Misty May’s arse is a sporting icon; how anyone could be in the same sandbox and not want to pat it is beyond me. Sure, they hug each other daintily but it’s not the same. Still, women’s Jello-wrestling might provide a reasonable alternative. I know it’s not an Olympic event yet, but if they’ll take synchronized diving it’s only a matter of time before this swimsuit/lime jelly sporting phenomenon is represented at the Olympiad. Personally I can’t wait.
In the meantime, to all the misguided sportsmen who think touching another man’s arse is somehow OK when you’re dressed in a uniform and standing on grass, I can only say “Cut that shit out. Seriously.”
Copyright © 2008 Edward Bison