Who would have thought that a few tears in a locker room would cause such uproar about how men should act on the court? I am disappointed at the reaction in the sports world to the reported tears that were shed in the Miami Heat locker room on March 7th. The general reaction of “Grown Men Don’t Cry” has been broadcasted all over ESPN and other sports media. I didn’t realize that some guys crying would threaten the man world so much.
They broke the Man Code, the rules on how guys should act, by crying after losing a regular season game. The Man Code allows crying only in very specific circumstances – losing a championship, losing a very close playoff game, and sometimes getting hurt during the game. But even in those circumstances, men have to hide their faces in their hands or jerseys. If the tears are seen, they must wipe them as quickly as possible. And that is only tolerated because they are elite athletes, who fit within the code in many other ways.
The training in the Man Code is incredibly powerful and pervasive. Boys are taught from a very young age to suck it up and get teased sometimes viciously to follow the Code. The remarks made in the last couple of weeks may not have been as vicious as it would be in high school, but everyone has chimed in to take their shots including Phil Jackson who made the comment “Big boys don’t cry.”
They have made it clear that the Code has been broken and that will not be tolerated. This is both punishment and a warning to any other potential Code breakers. And anyone who has thought about breaking the Man Code in this way knows that the consequences are deep.
The part that infuriates me the most is all the young boys everywhere who are being trained with every news segment, every newspaper article, every radio show that mentions it, instilling even more fear about the consequences of breaking the Man Code.
The redeeming part of this whole tragedy is when Jalen Rose stepped onto the ESPN SportsCenter set to interrupt the segment to say his piece. He spoke openly and vulnerably owning how he has cried after a game. He broke from the Man Code and owned it. Thank you Jalen for stepping out and showing what a Real Man looks and acts like. A Real Man stays true to himself, and doesn’t let the Man Code define who he can be.
Sara Nowlin is a speaker and life coach, specializing in authenticity and self-expression. Her program, Breaking Free to Simply Be, focuses on the breaking from the rules society teaches us, including the Man Code, to give youth the freedom to be themselves. For more information – http://www.saranowlin.com