Friday, April 16, 2010

The Man Cry

“I don’t normally shed tears over wins, and when Amy and I hugged off 18, that was a very emotional moment for us and something that I’ll look back on and just cherish”

When Phil Mickelson won the legendary Masters golf tournament last Sunday afternoon, viewers saw the side of a manly man few ever get to witness.

After draining the final putt on the 18th green, a teary-eyed Mickelson embraced his cancer-stricken wife Amy who had managed to get out of her sick bed to celebrate her man's victory, along with their three children.

Television viewers saw a deeply emotional Mickelson, who didn’t know whether Amy would be able to make it there or not, stop for what seemed an eternity, as an elusive tear rolled down his left cheek while hugging a woman he so clearly loves.

That tear labelled as "elusive" only because we're not accustomed to seeing men openly weep in public.

Men, afterall, are the less emotional sex. Supposed to be bastions of stability; the rock in the middle of any storm; cool as cucumbers regardless of circumstance. Displays of emotion through crying is not something men do. Hearts are not something to be worn on sleeves. True feelings are boarded up and barricaded; protected by invisible fortresses, steep and mighty.

But Mickelson is the kind of guy who has never been afraid to show what he feels for his family. For example, he skipped last year’s British Open to stay with his wife during her first round of breast cancer treatments.

Not only did Phil win a prestigious golf tournament in storybook fashion, he may have re-opened the debate on the social acceptability of the "Man Cry".

Men have always cried. Yet acceptance has varied over generations and across culture. A University of California study in 2001 indicated 65% of men said they almost never cried, whereas 63% of women said they cried occasionally and 18% frequently. There was also a significant difference in the type of tears. Most women described how they cried as “real sobbing and bawling”, or “slight sobbing and shaking”. The majority of men confessed only to “red eye and a tear or two”, or “feel like crying but no visible sign”.

That's why most men relate to what Tom Hanks once famously explained, playing the character of whisky-soaked baseball manager Jimmy Dugan in "A League of Their Own"... "There's no crying in baseball!"

While we still expect men to cry less than women, many see tears as a proof that a man is sensitive and humble and thus well rounded. In fact, a recent study from Penn State University suggests tears are becoming more acceptable for men and less so for women. The study, using a sample of 284 people, found that men were judged much more positively for crying than women. Men were seen as expressing honest emotion where women were seen as out of control. Professor Tom Lutz, of the University of California, Riverside, says it explains why male politicians can allow themselves the occasional tear, whereas women cannot. A man is seen as strong and unemotional, so crying hints at depth. A woman politician has to portray herself as tough to succeed. So when a woman cries it tells us her toughness was just a front and she is really too soft underneath.

So as we head into the weekend, feel free to grab a box of tissue and enjoy seeing the more emotional sensitive side of some famous men; superstar athletes like Phil Mickelson who, at one time, allowed the world a glimpse of what they were feeling.

Today, we present the TSB version of the "Top 5 Man Cries in Pro Sports"

#5. Terrell Owens

The Dallas Cowboys receiver struggles with a heart-breaking playoff loss to the Giants.

#4. Kevin Garnett

The Minnesota Timberwolves star turns on the waterworks in frustration over a disappointing season and the collapse of a once-contending team. The emotion really starts to bubble over at about the 4:00 mark and makes for riveting television.

#3. Mark McGwire

The St. Louis Cardinals star struggles with his public admission over steroid use.

#2. Michael Irvin

The Dallas Cowboys receiver exorcises personal demons during his Hall-of-Fame acceptance speech in Canton, Ohio.

and finally, the most famous "Man Cry" in pro sports history ... August 9, 1988.

The day the Edmonton Oilers traded the Great One to the Los Angeles Kings.

#1. Wayne Gretzky

"One's suffering disappears when one lets oneself go, when one yields - even to sadness"

1 comment:

Mike Shanks PSP said...

As one who is not afraid to shed a public tear, I want to thank you for this post.

Emotion is something that needs to be utilized in the growth of our spirit. Without it we cannot truly get in touch with our soul.

Men and women alike!