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Jock Culture
August 7, 2011 4:33 PM   Subscribe

"It was clear to me then that Bill Stowe was a 'dumb jock,' which does not mean stupid; it means ignorant, narrow, misguided by the values of Jock Culture, an important and often overlooked strand of American life. These days, I'm not so sure he wasn't right; the world may well be divided into Jocks and Pukes." What Jock Culture Does To Pukes Like You
posted by wittgenstein (94 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Very insightful piece; it is important that so called "jock culture" invades many facets of modern life, some of which are far removed from playgrounds, ballfields, and war zones.
posted by Renoroc at 4:46 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the article:

the codes of Jock Culture—most important, the willingness to subordinate themselves to authority.

Oh yes. In jock culture "character" is equivalent to "respect for authority". When they say a guy has "character issues" they don't mean he is dishonest or mean or lazy. They mean he is won't follow the rules. Rebels do great in Hollywood movies and in television shows but in real life they don't get anywhere.
posted by bukvich at 5:03 PM on August 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


a very thoughtful article, but probably not empirically valid.
posted by rebent at 5:17 PM on August 7, 2011


Sounds like Robin Hanson's "farmer culture."
posted by grobstein at 5:17 PM on August 7, 2011


The Pukes—those "others" typically shouldered aside by Jocks in high school hallways and, I imagine, a large percentage of those who are warily reading this special issue of The Nation—were often turned off or away from competitive sports (or settled for cross-country).

Touché.
posted by DaDaDaDave at 5:27 PM on August 7, 2011


Eh, ex-rowing captain speaking here. I do some work with a guy from my boat - unlike many of the people I know, I have seen his character and ability to dig deep before I have to trust that on the non-sporting level. That's a valuable thing, and I can certainly see the appeal of employing people who have got the job done in pressure situations.

I'm very left wing, however; maybe the sports/conservative thing is a more US based thing.
posted by jaduncan at 5:29 PM on August 7, 2011


(also, so not signing up for the whole non-sports people suck thing that seems implicit in the article; it's just useful extra data)
posted by jaduncan at 5:31 PM on August 7, 2011


I remember the jock vs. puke dichotomy showed up James Simon Kunen's The Strawberry Statement too.
posted by jonp72 at 5:33 PM on August 7, 2011


"Sports is good"

And you call yourself a puke? Conjugate those verbs maggot!
posted by Winnemac at 5:38 PM on August 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I’ve been making this argument lately, or something similar. I was saying "competitive" vs "non-competitive". Some people just want to hang out and enjoy, and some have to win. I think it’s a much bigger part of our lives and effects us more than people think. We’ve built a culture that has no place for the non-competitive person.
posted by bongo_x at 5:39 PM on August 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


gymnastics.
kidding...sorta. I agree with you though
posted by clavdivs at 5:41 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are only two types of men: Grimpeurs and Rouleurs.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:48 PM on August 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Huh. So rowing is jocky but cross country is pukey? I think of them as basically the same sport. A couple of my friends who were on the cross-country team went on to row in college. I think of both rowing and cross country as sports for masochists who enjoy getting up very early in the morning and joining with others for ritual suffering.
posted by craichead at 5:56 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


In Australia, we have a far better way of separating the two inimical ways of being: yobs and wankers.
posted by wilful at 6:10 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Huh. So rowing is jocky but cross country is pukey? I think of them as basically the same sport.

Neither of them is jockey. Rowing is waspy. Cross country is pukey. Lax is broey. The only sports (in America) that are truly jockey are Basketball, Football, Baseball and Hockey. Sometimes there are soccer jocks, but they are generally jocks who happen to play soccer.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:14 PM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


(there are Lax jocks too but they're all crossover hockey jocks. If all you play is Lax, you are a Lax bro).
posted by nathancaswell at 6:14 PM on August 7, 2011


What about Ultimate?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:18 PM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


the values of Jock Culture, an important and often overlooked strand of American life.

lolwhat
posted by DU at 6:18 PM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I actually almost included ultimate as a joke! And there is your answer. Ultimate is a joke.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:19 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Pukes ... were often turned off or away from competitive sports

Hah, I was plenty competitive in ...

(or settled for cross-country).

Damn it!

Shakes bony fist
posted by zippy at 6:19 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pukes? They called us skate fags and choir fags (and band fags for the kids who were in band).

Fucking jocks. To this day a huge part of my hatred for the Republicans and their ilk come about because they represent the mindset of the jocks.

Jock-O-Rama indeed.
posted by symbioid at 6:22 PM on August 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


and band fags for the kids who were in band

I managed to straddle the line by playing both baseball and cello in the "dorkestra." Go figure. For the record, "dorkestra" actually is pretty funny though.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:27 PM on August 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


The terminology is different, but isn't this basically territory covered by Team America?
We're dicks! We're reckless, arrogant, stupid dicks. And the Film Actors Guild are pussies. And Kim Jong Il is an asshole. Pussies don't like dicks, because pussies get fucked by dicks. But dicks also fuck assholes: assholes that just want to shit on everything. Pussies may think they can deal with assholes their way. But the only thing that can fuck an asshole is a dick, with some balls. The problem with dicks is: they fuck too much or fuck when it isn't appropriate - and it takes a pussy to show them that. But sometimes, pussies can be so full of shit that they become assholes themselves... because pussies are an inch and half away from ass holes. I don't know much about this crazy, crazy world, but I do know this: If you don't let us fuck this asshole, we're going to have our dicks and pussies all covered in shit!
posted by gern at 6:41 PM on August 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'd love for any sort of certainty or strength, and I wonder if my life wouldn't have been improved if, instead of being encouraged to be artistic, I'd been forced into sport.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:42 PM on August 7, 2011


There's only two kinds of people in the world. Those who divide everyone in to two kinds of people in the world and those who don't. So which are you?
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:42 PM on August 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Nah, Lovecraft in Brooklyn, it wasn't any better.

For the record, "dorkestra" actually is pretty funny though.

It was funnier when I imagined them heckling you during performances. "Nice dorkestral color, poindexteri!" "Hey, I didn't realize that this movement was marked 'do-lame-te'!" (guffaws, high-fives)
posted by No-sword at 6:50 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, there's three types of prople in this world - those who can count and those who cant.
posted by fuq at 6:51 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Today's youth would benefit from a renewed study of the art of pugilism. Not sure if that would make them jocks or pukes though.
posted by eagles123 at 6:52 PM on August 7, 2011


I liked the ending.
posted by box at 6:57 PM on August 7, 2011




what sport do i play if i want the lowest risk of jockitude
posted by LogicalDash at 7:35 PM on August 7, 2011


what sport do i play if i want the lowest risk of jockitude

curling?
posted by nathancaswell at 7:36 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fencing
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:39 PM on August 7, 2011


Croquet!
posted by subdee at 7:40 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Windsurfing
(apart from croquet, all olympic sports. also the biathlon.)
posted by vogon_poet at 7:42 PM on August 7, 2011


I've always held that there are 10 types of people in this world: those who understand binary, and those who don't.
posted by Riki tiki at 7:47 PM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


"...they came to work even if they were sick, worked well in groups, rebounded quickly from a setback, pushed the envelope to reach the goal and never quit until the job was done."

Like a stagehand, only worse.
posted by Floydd at 7:51 PM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Did "puke" mean "vomit" back then, or has the language evolved in the last few decades?
posted by madcaptenor at 8:14 PM on August 7, 2011


"Puke" meant "vomit", indeed. As in, "you non-jocks make me want to puke".
posted by hippybear at 8:23 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd love for any sort of certainty or strength, and I wonder if my life wouldn't have been improved if, instead of being encouraged to be artistic, I'd been forced into sport.

I was forced into sport. Sort of.

I do have some of the jock characteristics mentioned therein -- determination, the ability to bounce back from setbacks, etc. I'm not entirely sure I would attribute those traits to my none-too-distinguished athletic career or if those were just traits I had from the get-go.

I did pick up some good exercise habits. I'm healthier and fitter and better looking than most men my age. And I am deeply grateful for that. I probably wouldn't have developed an interest in working out if I hadn't had any sports experience.
posted by jason's_planet at 8:31 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]



I’ve been making this argument lately, or something similar. I was saying "competitive" vs "non-competitive".

Competitive vs. exploitative perhaps.

From the piece:At its most grotesque, think killer dodgeball for prize money, the Super Bowl.

I love football. Rugby. Contact sports. I'd tear my guts out to put the ball another foot down the field. But it's just a game man.
When I watch sports on t.v. though, the more I get a "what the hell is this?" feeling.
Not just the overproduction, constant interruption of the game by commercials, hype and player profiles. But beyond that. There's a kind of vicious desperation in that the vicarious thrill (and perhaps making money on selling it) has become the main point. Players seem almost incidental to the game. Like watching a live band and being excited because you're tallying how much they can make in the future.

Also from the piece: first, the myths of masculinity and power that pervade sports, and then why those myths are inescapable in everyday life
Never hit me. Maybe because I grew up with stories of Audie Murphy (5' 5, 110 pounds), Roger Young (5'2) and Smedley Butler (5' 9, 130 lbs). A lot of people seem to confuse sports with actual accomplishment.
Like steroids. Complete perversion of the whole point of being healthy and exercising.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:51 PM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Actually what jock culture/patriarchy/rabid militant conservatism currently does, taken to its extremes, is kill us all. Jocks included. Dominance is great, until you realize the "all" includes survival of our species and the environment we depend on. But of course, there are lots of ways to block out those sorts of inconvenient thoughts. You don't have to be stupid, just willfully blind.

Sport is an effective distractor from our looming problems and a nice way of diffusing rage and anxiety in a population that might otherwise channel those emotions into unrest against the upper classes, but then, the Romans knew that too.
posted by emjaybee at 8:51 PM on August 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Sport is an effective distractor from our looming problems and a nice way of diffusing rage and anxiety in a population that might otherwise channel those emotions into unrest against the upper classes, but then, the Romans knew that too.

Videogames do that too.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:54 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd argue this sports analogies are growing long in the tooth. There is real power still available for the taking, assuming you know what the world needs and know how to code. Tor, HFT, etc.

Yes, dumb aspects of charisma still matter vastly more than they should, but okay. I'd even venture that more women in the workplace has made the charisma dynamic less stupid.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:06 PM on August 7, 2011


Sport is an effective distractor from our looming problems and a nice way of diffusing rage and anxiety in a population that might otherwise channel those emotions into unrest against the upper classes, but then, the Romans knew that too.

The Nation sports issue that this article was from was guest edited by Dave Zirin. Dave is a sportswriter who happens to have the agenda of using discussion of sports to channel emotions back into unrest against the upper classes - both by heavily promoting athlete activists and continuously bringing up the class and political issues inside sports themselves. Dave's a socialist who gets regular and frequent media access - and no matter what Glenn Beck tells you, that's a very rare thing in the US these days. So I think your point is kind of, well, wrong.
posted by graymouser at 9:16 PM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


What are you, if you think the issues between jocks and pukes are hilarious but don't really impact your day, and you get laid but not by the most popular/least popular girls, and you do well in sports but find it boring and so move on to other things, and your circle of friends includes the full spectrum of students, top to bottom, without exception?

until reading this thread, it never really occurred to me that I don't have a "category" from back then to fit into, so now I'm curious
posted by davejay at 9:17 PM on August 7, 2011


You're a puck. Or a joke.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:25 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


What are you, if you think the issues between jocks and pukes are hilarious but don't really impact your day, and you get laid but not by the most popular/least popular girls, and you do well in sports but find it boring and so move on to other things, and your circle of friends includes the full spectrum of students, top to bottom, without exception?

I don't know. Barack Obama?
posted by breakin' the law at 9:31 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was raised Jock. Hockey, baseball, football, basketball, tennis, swimming, skiing -- always pursued to some extreme level of championship seriousness. My parents were both jocks. My big brother was a jock. It never really occurred to me until at least halfway through high school that there was any other way to live. Yet within a year of graduating, I'd dumped all of it -- except skiing. Man, I was tired of dressing rooms full of guys. And I'd discovered psychedelics, which really only worked with skiing. That was cool for a while, until I busted both my skis one day. Didn't hurt myself, just destroyed my skis -- pushing too hard. I got serious about filmmaking after that.
posted by philip-random at 9:31 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bill Stowe, explained to me that there were only two kinds of men on campus, perhaps in the world—Jocks and Pukes. He explained that Jocks, such as his rowers,

Wait, what? Rowers?
posted by stp123 at 9:32 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


"...they came to work even if they were sick, worked well in groups, rebounded quickly from a setback, pushed the envelope to reach the goal and never quit until the job was done."

Interesting. I learned that from the drama club.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:07 PM on August 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Interesting. I learned that from the drama club.

My high school had a requirement that people participate in sports for N seasons, for some value of N. But being in a play counted as a sport.

I'm still kind of bitter that they made me participate in sports, because I never had any idea what I was doing but nobody would teach me because how the hell did I get to be whatever age I was without learning those things? So I sat on the bench and felt like crap. I certainly didn't get whatever Life Lessons I was supposed to get from taking part in sports, because I never actually felt like part of the team and nobody gave a fuck if I was there.

(Why didn't I do drama instead, then? Because for whatever reason the athletic department had to take all comers, but the drama department didn't, and I kind of sucked at both.)
posted by madcaptenor at 10:27 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Compusory PE was terrible for me, at least until I got to the High School that had archery. Despite having poor vision and having to shoot left-handed, I was actually GOOD at it. I was a good sprinter as well. They invited me to go out for girl's track but I was really underweight. I had a high metabolism, so gaining and keeping enough weight to be on track was a problem.
The Jocks in my school were used to keep the Hippies in line. It was not pleasant. High School in the 60s was a terrible thing.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:09 PM on August 7, 2011


As has been pointed out by a couple people, the jocks look completely inept and stupid when you put them up against serious theatre people. I worked in professional theatre when I was a teenager. Oh.My.God. I have never worked as hard before, or since. Frankly, I've never felt as good since, either. But I can appreciate how jock-like those memories are.

Summer Stock! W00t! Seven days to build next week's show. Work starts at 9am. Never mind that you were working until 11, the night before, running this week's show. And we'll just have to accept those special days when absolutely everything had to be finished before you left, regardless of the hour. And in return, an apprentice's meager wages, which made McDonalds look like a good job (without any of the fun).

And then I'm supposed to take jocks seriously? Hrmph.
posted by Goofyy at 12:58 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm healthier and fitter and better looking than most men my age.

And so modest!
posted by dersins at 1:20 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


After thinking about it some more:

When I watch sports on t.v. though, the more I get a "what the hell is this?" feeling. Not just the overproduction, constant interruption of the game by commercials, hype and player profiles. But beyond that. There's a kind of vicious desperation in that the vicarious thrill (and perhaps making money on selling it) has become the main point. Players seem almost incidental to the game. Like watching a live band and being excited because you're tallying how much they can make in the future.

I see this also, and it isn't just sports, but all kinds of things in "pop culture". I tend to blame the marketeers. "They" (whoever they is) just keep getting better at playing on emotion. Except for me, I'm aware of it, and it feels increasingly artificial, and plain wrong. It's manipulative, not at all unlike the rabid nationalism that comes with fascism.
posted by Goofyy at 1:24 AM on August 8, 2011


Summer Stock! W00t! Seven days to build next week's show. Work starts at 9am. Never mind that you were working until 11, the night before, running this week's show. And we'll just have to accept those special days when absolutely everything had to be finished before you left, regardless of the hour. And in return, an apprentice's meager wages, which made McDonalds look like a good job (without any of the fun).

And then I'm supposed to take jocks seriously? Hrmph.


I agree. Any time I have been involved in any group effort to make art, the amount of work involved deeply impresses me.

I think screenwriter John Rogers once described film-making as being (I paraphrase) like simultaneously starting a business, building a building and trying to write poetry while the whole time crazy people are wandering around demanding your attention.

The idea that somehow actors and film-makers are just layabouts and histrionics is... misguided, shall we say. They are often immensely dedicated, hardworking and disciplined people operating under tremendous stress to get things done to inhumanly high standards. The fact that the products of their work then come to us, cap-in-hand and eager to please should not blind us to the talent and labor that went into them...
posted by lucien_reeve at 2:42 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


what sport do i play if i want the lowest risk of jockitude

Pentathalon is the sport of the gentleman adventurer.
posted by rodgerd at 3:37 AM on August 8, 2011


The idea of Jock vs. Puke being some sort of perversion of modern culture seems off to me. Ain't the Peloponnesian Wars Jocks (Sparta) vs. Pukes (Athens)? Activities which tap into humanity's competitive side and use that for group bonding are something that's always been there, always going to be there, because it can be quite useful. Jockishness seems less a unique cultural trait than a shading in human personality which crops up all the time, and finds different expression in different times and eras. Some cultures value those traits more than others, I suppose, but they're always there.

I wonder whether chimps who conduct border wars are jocks or pukes....
posted by Diablevert at 3:37 AM on August 8, 2011


...the values of Jock Culture, an important and often overlooked strand of American life.

Apparently written by someone who has never once worked in or near the sales department of any American office.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:57 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I managed to do golf as a school sport. It involved shlepping a decaying bag of rusty golf clubs (the best I could afford) on the one hour peak-hour train ride to school in the morning and then on the way back, though meant that the usual ordeal of fighting in the mud with 10 other boys or whatever it was was replaced by a pleasant solitary stroll, punctuated by inexpertly hitting a ball with a stick.
posted by acb at 4:15 AM on August 8, 2011


wilful: "In Australia, we have a far better way of separating the two inimical ways of being: yobs and wankers"

Oh man, while I was expecting to see "Whatareya" on the other end of that link, I was NOT anticipating the fact that it was the copy I'd uploaded myself. : O
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:59 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I managed to do golf as a school sport. It involved shlepping a decaying bag of rusty golf clubs (the best I could afford) on the one hour peak-hour train ride to school in the morning and then on the way back, though meant that the usual ordeal of fighting in the mud with 10 other boys or whatever it was was replaced by a pleasant solitary stroll, punctuated by inexpertly hitting a ball with a stick.

A friend of mine was in the competitive sailing team at his university. He was also into basketball, but he stayed intramural for the basketball because the sailing team didn't do drug testing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:15 AM on August 8, 2011


I have a deep belief that the whole sport/drug-testing combo is a plot against freedom. It doesn't affect me, as the very word "sport" fills me with loathing. Even as my doctor says "You need to do sports for your health", me being all middle-aged and shit, and I tell him not to call exercise "sport". I don't DO sports. (never mind that I'm a basket of knotted muscles from a very hard ride yesterday). Exercise is clean and healthy. Sport is dick-headed and demented.
posted by Goofyy at 5:33 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Activities which tap into humanity's competitive side and use that for group bonding are something that's always been there,

That's a bit of a simplistic and reduced idea of Jock Culture, though. There are several strands or layers that tend to intermix when the "jock vs. puke" narrative is used, and teasing them apart is a littler harder that. I think an important component that ties several ideas together is 'the spectacle' of the jock. When there ceases to be the spectacle, or at least when it is mediated through things like strong team play or maybe accolades for the action rather than the player, then the overtness of the jock sensibility seems to be reduced. The very idea of pointing out who is a jock implies some kind of braggadocio which wouldn't exist without an audience, and since one does not exist without the other those tend not to be mutually exclusive properties. I guess what I'm getting at is that competitiveness is something that crosses many boundaries that jockness doesn't.

Exercise is clean and healthy. Sport is dick-headed and demented.

This is an interesting (and true) point that many people seem to not understand. I'm not sure what interferes in the obviousness of this but we get bombarded with plenty of marketing that mixes these things up. From workout gear to clothing to sports drinks, we are constantly fed the idea that the singular figure struggling through a lone action makes for what's it's all about. When in reality it has much more to do with repetitive actions over the long term.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:12 AM on August 8, 2011


I know this is prejudiced and closed-minded of me, but I don't really care what your thesis is, you're going to lose me as soon as you insist I appreciate how awesome and worthwhile and noble "sports" are. Not only have I had to deal with jock culture all my life (as every American has) and been on the "losing" end, I've had more than my fill of having to hear about how pure, honest, and dignified it is. I know there's more to it than I give it credit, but at this point I think we'd do well to put some kind of moratorium on sports so we can actually concentrate just a little on some other things for a change.
posted by Legomancer at 7:21 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not only have I had to deal with jock culture all my life (as every American has) and been on the "losing" end, I've had more than my fill of having to hear about how pure, honest, and dignified it is.

Moreover, having had to deal with "jock culture" kind of undercuts the claims that sports is "dignified."

Don't get me wrong, it can be indeed. But I have a hard time finding anything "dignified" about guys taunting me for being a "band fag". So I learned that sports had idiots in it, which made it no better than any other human endeavour -- so why was it getting special treatment?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:25 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


From workout gear to clothing to sports drinks, we are constantly fed the idea that the singular figure struggling through a lone action makes for what's it's all about. When in reality it has much more to do with repetitive actions over the long term.
posted by P.o.B.


Kind of like writing then.
posted by philip-random at 8:08 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know this is prejudiced and closed-minded of me, but I don't really care what your thesis is

YOU'RE BEING PREJUDICED AND CLOSE-MINDED!
posted by philip-random at 8:08 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Kind of like writing then.

I'm not sure what you're getting at here. I've never seen a Gatorade commercial that has beads of sweat pouring down a writer's face as they dot 'i's and cross 't's.

Or are you saying it's like any other thing that takes skills to build?
posted by P.o.B. at 8:27 AM on August 8, 2011


Or are you saying it's like any other thing that takes skills to build?

It takes hard often painful practice, perseverance, resilience to make both a writer and an athlete. As someone raised Jock but ultimately bored to death by the limitations of that universe, I'm nevertheless glad I had these sort of qualities drilled into me at a very early age.
posted by philip-random at 8:52 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


It takes hard often painful practice, perseverance, resilience to make both a writer and an athlete.

Sure, and like I said I don't think jock culture = competitiveness, Do we need jock culture to cultivate competitiveness in a broad audience though? I'm not sure, but I don't think so. If you go down to any local high school and ask if the jocks are on the tennis or football team, you'll probably get a unanimous vote for football. It's not that jocks don't exist in tennis or golf or whatever, but as a broad term that encapsulates a lot of things I think it has less to do with the sport and more with the person.
Again, I think it's the fetishisizing of the spectacle of competing that is creating the negative undertones in the term rather than just the competing.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:16 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wish the jocks I experienced during my student teaching days were interested in perseverance, practice, and success. As long as there was a ball involved they were, but asking them to translate any of that into non-sports activities resulted in vacant stares. It was almost as though sports had been valued higher than anything else high school could provide.
posted by Legomancer at 9:22 AM on August 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


It was almost as though sports had been valued higher than anything else high school could provide.

Too true. I only played one year of serious high school football, but man what a year! Start with the dynamic of the team itself -- the coach and his staff (all powerful, charismatic personalities), the various players, the insane level of practice and conditioning (three hour practices, six days a week starting half-way through the month of August and continuing through to December). Add to all that the visibility, prestige, notoriety that being on the team gave one -- well how could everyday school (or anything else for that matter) even begin to compete?

That said, I imagine the same applies if you're in a high-end school drama or music program. This to me is one of the great failings of organized education: how it continually fails to recognize that what generally motivates the passions of young folks (and thus makes profound learning possible) is usually not found in any classroom. It's extracurricular. And yet there's no mechanism to make this stuff part of the curriculum ...
posted by philip-random at 10:06 AM on August 8, 2011


What are you, if you think the issues between jocks and pukes are hilarious but don't really impact your day, and you get laid but not by the most popular/least popular girls, and you do well in sports but find it boring and so move on to other things, and your circle of friends includes the full spectrum of students, top to bottom, without exception?

until reading this thread, it never really occurred to me that I don't have a "category" from back then to fit into, so now I'm curious


Easy: Self-hating puke.

Your blatantly introspective post betrays you.
posted by skuzrag at 11:26 AM on August 8, 2011


I certainly didn't get whatever Life Lessons I was supposed to get from taking part in sports, because I never actually felt like part of the team and nobody gave a fuck if I was there.

It seems to me that you got exactly the life lesson they were trying to teach you. Whether or not you accept it is a different matter.
posted by Errant at 11:45 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lovecraft in Brooklyn > I'd love for any sort of certainty or strength, and I wonder if my life wouldn't have been improved if, instead of being encouraged to be artistic, I'd been forced into sport.

It's not too late to get that self-assurance and strength, LiB. I've been taking dance classes since the beginning of this year. I have become a lot stronger, a lot sexier, and a lot more confident. And I've picked up a new art form in which to express myself that couldn't be further away from drawing comics and animating. (Or could it? Dance class has revived my interest in animating for pleasure; putting together a routine involves much the same mental processes as animating against a song. I've even used my animation tools to break down tracks.)

Being physically confident is not the sole domain of jocks. My instructors are just as nerdy and intellectual about dance as I've been about drawing and programming. But they are also confident because projecting that in person is simply part of their craft. I'm picking it up, finally, at the age of forty.

So get out there and find some physical act you're interested in. Dance? Fencing? Something you can apply your intellect to as well as simply growing brute strength, something not all about The Team. Something you're interested enough in to do for reasons other than "my doctor says I should exercise more". Something that will let you ultimately build performances.

Because ain't nothing but high school stereotypes saying that artsy people can't be in awesome shape too.
posted by egypturnash at 1:08 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


When there ceases to be the spectacle, or at least when it is mediated through things like strong team play or maybe accolades for the action rather than the player, then the overtness of the jock sensibility seems to be reduced. The very idea of pointing out who is a jock implies some kind of braggadocio which wouldn't exist without an audience, and since one does not exist without the other those tend not to be mutually exclusive properties. I guess what I'm getting at is that competitiveness is something that crosses many boundaries that jockness doesn't.

Okay, I take your point that the idea of "jock" has a lot more too it than "one who participates in a competition." but the idea of jock as demigod, jock as the champion, the embodiment of aspiration, the object of veneration --- you find all that stuff thousands of years ago, also. Just not in the form of American football. The Spartans had the same attitude toward their warriors. The Romans had gladiators. A medieval knight was supposed to be both. The very word champion comes from the idea of a warrior who fights for his people --- an individual whose physical skill in single combat is relied on to determine the fate of his people. Goliath was a jock and so was Achilles. They both meet your requirements for braggadocio and audience-worship.
posted by Diablevert at 1:33 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


And they both came to bad ends.

Odysseus, though. Odysseus -- he was a puke.
posted by grobstein at 1:48 PM on August 8, 2011


And they both came to bad ends.
Odysseus, though. Odysseus -- he was a puke.


Nah, you're forgetting the end --- strings the un-stringable bow, shoots through a dozen arrowheads, tags in his son and commences to tear the place up. He's a jock, he's just a quarterback. They're allowed cunning. Or perhaps the Crash Davis of ancient Grreece.
posted by Diablevert at 2:06 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


there are only two kinds of people in the world

me

and you


everyone else is dead

DEEEAAAAAD
posted by tehloki at 5:12 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


meanwhile, in Australia, somebody who critisized Cadel Evans victory was put through hell

My exasperated eye-rolling was misinterpreted by many as being disrespectful to Cadel and his stunning win. It wasn't. I was simply exasperated with Karl. Business as usual.

The backlash was immediate. As the waves of online abuse turned into a tsunami, I was in tears before breakfast. By lunchtime, I was physically afraid to go outside. Cyber-bullying is like that. The anonymity makes you paranoid and fearful because you don't know who your abusers are.



I don't follow sport, and its a huge part of Australian society
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:21 PM on August 8, 2011


meanwhile, in Australia, somebody who critisized Cadel Evans victory was put through hell

My exasperated eye-rolling was misinterpreted by many as being disrespectful to Cadel and his stunning win. It wasn't. I was simply exasperated with Karl. Business as usual.

The backlash was immediate. As the waves of online abuse turned into a tsunami, I was in tears before breakfast. By lunchtime, I was physically afraid to go outside. Cyber-bullying is like that. The anonymity makes you paranoid and fearful because you don't know who your abusers are.



I don't follow sport, and its a huge part of Australian society


People are trash.
posted by grobstein at 6:46 PM on August 8, 2011


Nah, you're forgetting the end --- strings the un-stringable bow, shoots through a dozen arrowheads, tags in his son and commences to tear the place up. He's a jock, he's just a quarterback. They're allowed cunning. Or perhaps the Crash Davis of ancient Grreece.

A massacre with blocked exits: that part of the book reads like Columbine to me -- which was, in a perverse way, revenge of the nerds.
posted by grobstein at 6:49 PM on August 8, 2011


like Columbine to me -- which was, in a perverse way, revenge of the nerds.

Not trying to "Um, actually" you or derail the thread here, because this is somewhat relevant -- as the facts about Klebold and Harris and the attack came out it became clear that this was not a "revenge of the nerds" scenario. Dave Cullen's book Columbine examines and debunks that idea.

The reason I bring this up is, I was fascinated by Columbine because I thought that was the scenario as well. It was surprising to me to find out it wasn't the case. Yet that was the narrative that came out of it and persists to this day. That such a thing would be so pervasive and maybe attractive I think says something.
posted by Legomancer at 5:53 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


you find all that stuff thousands of years ago, also.

To an extent, yeah, and also to an extent I could extend out my spectacle argument here, but that's outside the scope of what's being discussed. If we bring this back into context, we're looking at a specific binary stratification of people that doesn't really hold up to well outside of highschool. Sure, sure, there's the nobility/peasant or citizen/slave dynamic in cultures thousands of years ago, but the specifics of what we're talking about again resides in a context that exists only in present day. Calling someone a "puke" is kind of anachronistic at this point time and think substituting something like nerd would be acceptable, which in turn a Jock/Nerd dynamic is worlds apart from Knight/Peasant dynamic.

The other part you have to keep in mind is that you can't have one without the other, they are purposefully played off each other. Jock is measured by the puke's deficiencies. So in effect, to say "well jock culture is great because hard work and blahblahetc." is also saying "puke culture is something to revile and blahblahetc.". Never mind separating people into those two categories is repulsive thing to do in the first place, it should be a pretty well known truism at this point that separating people period is just plain wrong.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:09 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


If we bring this back into context, we're looking at a specific binary stratification of people that doesn't really hold up to well outside of highschool.

Are we? Is Tom Brady's lot in life not envied and desired, by the average heterosexual American male? I mean, I think I see what you're saying in one sense: Past high school, in adult life, where one ranks on the jock-puke scale doesn't matter much day to day. People are free to pursue the self-definition which makes them happy, and don't encounter constant daily pressure to conform (or at least have better escape routes from that pressure).

But I'd say the problem with high school is not that it's unlike society but that it's too much like it: A realm in which everybody has no responsibilities (or very few), no needful role by which to define themselves, other than by social status. High school is poisonous because it's a highly concentrated solution of a tincture which is usually diffused. The quarterback holds sway there because his is the archetype of the traits society most values: Physical beauty and prowess, virility, leadership.

The other part you have to keep in mind is that you can't have one without the other, they are purposefully played off each other. Jock is measured by the puke's deficiencies.

Nah, backwards, I'd say. A puke is deficient because he is unlike the jock -- unwilling to submit to the group, physically weak and unskillful, unwilling to endure pain, too intellectual to bond with others.

Never mind separating people into those two categories is repulsive thing to do in the first place, it should be a pretty well known truism at this point that separating people period is just plain wrong.

Might be wrong, doesn't mean it's not useful. The jock is held up as the ideal: "This is what you're supposed to be like, kid. This is what you should aspire to be." If the traits the jock embodies are indeed helpful for the cohesion of society as a whole --- as the original article points out, a lot of it is about submitting to authority, group loyalty, hard work, leadership, self-abnegation --- then, by Darwin, people will tend to venerate jocks.
posted by Diablevert at 7:40 PM on August 9, 2011


Are we? Is Tom Brady's lot in life not envied and desired, by the average heterosexual American male?

Yes, we are because of a couple of things here. I could interchange any number of men with Brady and they would not fulfill the jock ideal and would similarly be envied and desired by the average heterosexual male American. Off the top of my head Hugh Heffner is one but there are plenty of rock stars, actors, and even other sport stars that don't fit into the jock type. Next, the term "jock" and all it's meaning. as I understand it in it's common parlance, definitely doesn't exist outside of the current context of maybe the last 60 years or so and that's stretching it a bit.

What seems to be missing from your picture is the overt negative tones that comes along with the idea of a jock. You're trying to make this into a rose-colored ideal or archetype that some people actually fit into. Ideals and archetypes don't work that way. I would love to sit around and bs about archetypal characters but in reality those things don't exist. What he's associating is words with a myriad of unpleasant connotations and traits which hardly ever match up in the real world. Mashing together a couple of supposed abilities doesn't equate them at all.

You also seem to be firmly entrenched in a Galt-like man's man territory, which isn't what I'm speaking to at all but I do enjoy a good Dos Sequis commercial because they're ironically funny.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:17 PM on August 9, 2011


Dos Equis. It means "Two X's".
posted by hippybear at 3:39 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


If we bring this back into context, we're looking at a specific binary stratification of people that doesn't really hold up to well outside of highschool.

Not so sure about that.

Exhibit A: Compare the salary of the average professional athlete with the average professional actor or artist. Or, consider: when was the last time you heard of an athlete who needed "a day job"?

Exhibit B: Doesn't a lot of the partisan sniping in congress sound...like a high school lunchroom?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:24 AM on August 10, 2011


Exhibit A: Compare the salary of the average professional athlete with the average professional actor or artist. Or, consider: when was the last time you heard of an athlete who needed "a day job"?

There are something like 4000 - 5000 minor league baseball players in this country, doing the sports equivalent of waiting on tables hoping to break into the big show. That's several times more than the number of NBA, NFL, MLB, MLS, and NHL players combined. The vast majority of them make, by most standards, very little money. Salaries in Class A (the tier with the largest number of players) start at $850 / month. For a season that lasts 4 - 6 months. That means those guys are making somewhere between around $3500 and $5000 per year. That only gets them somewhere around one-third to one-half of the way to the poverty level. Looked at another way, they're making less money as professional athletes than a teenager with a part-time job at McDonald's. Even in Triple A, the tier just below the majors, there are players whose earnings are right about at the poverty level: minimum salaries are $2150 / month for a 6 month season, or just under $13K / year.

Basketball (at least for the moment), hockey and soccer also have their own minor league systems in which players make considerably less money than the stars in their respective major leagues. So, yeah, that's a lot of professional athletes who need "day jobs." Here's an interesting article about what finances are like for struggling minor league baseball players. Just as scary as it is for struggling actors, and the big paydays are just as illusory for most of them.

Exhibit B: Doesn't a lot of the partisan sniping in congress sound...like a high school lunchroom?

Well, it sounds more like junior high to me, but you have a point vis a vis cliquishness and backbiting. Except that junior high / high school cliques are generally based around significant (perceived) stratification of social status-- not so much in congress. The children in congress and the senate are all the equivalent of the popular kids-- they're basically all the grownup (well, that's debatable) version of jocks, regardless of which side of the aisle they're sitting on.
posted by dersins at 8:31 AM on August 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


certain professions seem to reflect more of the highschool bullshit reality than others. I've certainly heard it said of the film biz that, it's just like high school except it's easier to get laid. Which probably explains why, in spite of my love for the art form and the fact that I've made more than a few bucks in the biz over the years, I find myself avoiding it as much as possible (not that there's anything wrong with the getting laid part). It's just so annoying to be in your 50s and dealing with people who aren't teenagers but still hung up on who got invited to the party and who didn't.
posted by philip-random at 8:41 AM on August 10, 2011


dersins: thanks for digging up the minor league baseball data.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:37 AM on August 10, 2011


Dos Equis. It means "Two X's".

Heh, yeah I don't speak Spanish, but that was one of those "I should have looked closer before posting because I realized about 30 seconds later..." misspellings. Whaddyagonnadowithoutaneditwindow? Mea Culpa.

Not so sure about that.

It would take one heckuva of an argument to really convince me about such a simplification. But aside from the great point dersins makes:

Exhibit A:

Having worked with and seen what professional athletes go through I can confidently say that yes there are plenty of professional athletes without jobs, and athletes who are quite aware of the precarious position they hold hoping that bum knee or shoulder doesn't act up. Not to mention some sports or competition has a very short playable lifespan, such as the Olympics that only take place every four years. Most Olympians would love to get more than one shot at medal, but four years allows a lot of newer and younger blood to crowd you out.

Exhibit B:

Heh, yeah kinda.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:49 AM on August 10, 2011


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