Out of the Man Cave

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

A sports radio guy in the Bay Area rose in defense of Richie Incognito, and against the pernicious and totally imaginary feminization of sports. He doesn't matter, but he also kind of does.

Let me take you Inside The Game for a moment. When internet writer people get together, we talk about the same things as normal people -- what we imagine Papa John Schnatter is like in real life (peremptory, miniature, cologned) and crappy old jobs we had and whether we should get snacks, maybe we should get snacks. But, finally, the conversation will come back to the same thing, which is how happy we are to be in human space among other humans, away from the computer-frizzled air of the blogging couch and our individual foie gras goose's feed of information to be assimilated or goofed-on or GIFed or whatever. For most of us, even those who care a lot about it and give our weird workdays over its consideration, sports is something we process as a television show. It's not good to watch that many hours of TV a day. It's not good for you, and it's not good.

When you work from home, it is very difficult to know when you're home from work and done for the day. The world tends to telescope down into a fairly narrow focus. I've noticed, recently, that I sound -- for lack of a better term -- just freaking weird to myself for the first few minutes I speak to my wife after she gets home from work. It's because I haven't said anything all day. I forget, much more often than I'd like to admit, how to be around other humans. I remember quickly, because this is kind of a basic thing, but it's jarring how quickly this all atrophies.

Those are, as you might guess, pretty crappy moments, and it's when I go out and walk around, or get beers with friends, or just run an errand sans headphones and half-listen to my neighborhood's non-stop howling sidewalk goofstorm. It's all nicer than it sounds. It's basically the nicest and most affirmative and basic human thing, actually, this simple interacting with other people. More than that, reminding yourself what people are like, and that they're each as real as you and everyone else, is an important thing if you're going to write about things people do.

This is especially true of sports, which is at bottom a thing about becoming bigger than ourselves -- through the feelings we get from watching or attending or playing or talking about or even thinking about and reading about these games, and from the greater and harder to name feeling of un-forgetting that we get from doing all that together, as part of a community, however variously or vaguely defined. If you're unable to access those bigger things where sports are concerned, you're... well, you're welcome to do whatever you want, even if that's using sports fandom as a bucket for toting around your sloshing biases and anxieties and workaday rages. But I'd say you're missing out, if that's what you're using it for, and that you're emptying out a lot of valuable things -- things that actually make life better and richer and more fun -- so that you have more room for the sort of off-the-rack gripes that mostly wither or burst when exposed to sunlight.

I've only the heard the same eight or so minutes of Damon Bruce's radio show on San Francisco's KNBR that everyone else has, and they are eight truly and heroically shitty minutes of radio.

Bruce -- in the service (if that's the word) of defending Richie Incognito, sport's most-parsed pig-eyed sociopath -- burps up nearly 10 minutes of hoary room-temp chunks of Pussification Panic, with the twist that he's not whinging about how everyone's a total gaylord these days, but shouting about how annoying women are, and holding up sports as a safe space for men to be incoherent and angry and small and not think.

It's all frankly misogynistic and weirdly angry about some things it only barely engages; it's also hilariously tetchy and peevish and sensitive about the rising tide of "ultra-feminine sensitivity" in sports. Or something. It's hard to know, really, what all Bruce is even on about -- it has the same pissy tenor and breathless ranting rhythm of conservative talk radio, and has the same Imaginary Thing Under Assault From Without narrative, but it's as puzzled as it is puzzling. It's a man killing clock on a four-hour radio show in about the most brutish way possible, mostly, and showing his pale ass in the process. It seems a reasonable guess that Bruce, for all the wild energy of his performance, doesn't care about women or their influence or Jonathan Martin or that poor martyred rage-steak Incognito. He's talking to himself, and finally talking about talking-to-himself.

And it's offensive, of course, mostly and finally because of how stupid and wrong and small it all is. It's insulting, too, that someone who knows and cares so little about any of the things that make being a fan or being alive so good should feel entitled to make so much noise about it.

It's a man waving an invisible gun at an invisible army, swearing that they will never take him alive.

More to the point, though, it's boring. It's just a pissed-off man, alone with a microphone, fuming about what he imagines Guy Stuff to be, which he defines more or less as you expect, and which he personifies through his ranting as utter abject defeat and ulcerous loneliness. It's a man waving an invisible gun at an invisible army, swearing that they will never take him alive. This sort of voice-in-the-wilderness theatricality is a popular one on the radio, and in the spittle-ing silent-scream pwnership society of the Internet's more bilious corners. All those scattered millions of last angry men in their claustrophobic worlds gone mad, all alone and wary and very upset and outnumbered and so quite probably doomed to starve, barricaded as they are in their various man caves.

You'll notice that you encounter people like this less often out among the humans than you will on the radio, or shrieking at Bomani Jones on Twitter. This is another good reason to go outside. It's another good reason to go to a game, actually, with all the men and women who will be there, and who will be cheering just like you, and just like themselves.

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