…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

Sports and Me

By Rex Goode


I have never really been enthusiastic about sports. If one believes stereotypes, it makes sense in light of the fact that I deal with same-sex attraction. If one believes in certain therapeutic models, becoming interested in sports is supposed to help with that, if “it” is something one thinks needs helping.Even though I don’t believe in stereotypes, I think that stereotypes don’t just come out of nowhere. They happen because a lot of people know a lot of other people where the stereotype seems to be accurate. The problem with stereotypes is not that they are inaccurate, but that they create unfortunate opportunities for people to jump to conclusions.

For example, if you know a lot of gay men who don’t like sports, you might assume any number of falsehoods:

  • A man identifies himself as gay, so he probably doesn’t like sports.
  • A man doesn’t like sports, so he must be gay.
  • A man loves sports, so he isn’t gay.
  • If you can get a gay man to like sports, he won’t be gay anymore.

Does the last one mean that if you get a straight man to hate sports, he will become gay? Ridiculous!

Don’t laugh. There are therapeutic models for treating men who deal with same-sex attraction by manning them up, which sometimes takes the form of encouraging and even mentoring them to dig sports. Now, I don’t want to balk at this idea too much, because I have friends who have done it and swear by it. I am sure that there are other things at work than the simplistic analysis I have just given. I’ll leave it at that. If it it’s what a man wants to try, he has my support. It just isn’t for me and I don’t know that I need it. I like my life.

My history with sports has not been all bad. Another place where I fit the stereotypes was that I just couldn’t play sports well to save my life. Many times, it felt like my life was in danger. I was the last chosen for everything where the two captains picked their teams. I can still hear the groans when it came down to me.

School P.E. teachers tried to make a man out of me, but they cared more about winning than helping some poor sissy man up. I knew that I was destined to be relegated to being a spectator.

I actually enjoyed going to watch football games in high school. I thought at first it was just a social thing, but even in a town where I was new and didn’t know anyone, I liked going to the games. It was the same with basketball, though I liked football better.

Darryll Lamonica, The Mad Bomber

Watching on TV was a different story. I just couldn’t get into it. My stepfather like football. Whenever he was home on a Saturday or Sunday, he insisted on watching whatever game there was. I remember he was a fan of Darryll Lamonica.

I didn’t really care to watch TV with Dad. The games weren’t that hard to follow. I remembered the basics of football from school, but couldn’t really enjoy it on the tube. We lived in Flagstaff, Arizona during that time. There was no local team. My method for picking a team to root for was as follows:

  • If Dad likes a team, I like the other one.
  • If Dad doesn’t care, I like the one that is losing.

My method took off any pressure I felt to know why I was rooting for a team. I usually wandered off to find something else to do after about twenty minutes. The only other feelings I had about televised sports was when it preempted a show I wanted to watch.

In my later teens, I realized I might have been a success at football if I could have found an instinct somewhere deep inside of me for plowing into someone else. In games we’d play in the vacant lot in my neighborhood, I was hopeless for blocking, but if I got the ball, no one could catch me.

So, Monday night, I went to a baseball game in my city. I live in Gresham, Oregon, which is a suburb of Portland. The baseball team here is the Portland Beavers. It is a minor league team and fighting for its own existence. The facility where it plays, PGA Park, near downtown Portland, is to become the home of the Portland Timbers, a major league soccer team. The Portland Beavers are without a home after the current season. Plans for a new stadium for them were halted when the local government decided the money was better spent on low-income housing. It’s hard to argue with that.

When I went to the game, I was thinking about the situation. In fact, I find it really difficult to be interested in a sports event if I can’t think about its impact on human beings. I was determined to have a good time. It’s all too easy to plan on having a bad time and then having your suspicions confirmed when you really hate being there. So, I was keeping positive.

It helped that I was going with my best friend, Drew. He’s fun just about anywhere. We had contemplated going to the Portland Trail Blazers game, but one look at the prices and we searched for something we could afford.

We got there pretty early. We were done with dinner and took the light rail downtown. Parking is awful.

While we waited for the game to start, we checked out the concession prices. Ouch! Worse than going to a movie!

Because I use a cane whenever I have a lot of walking to do, we were able to exchange our cramped little seats for something in the ADA row for people with disabilities, where the seats were bigger with more leg room. Our seats had been right down in front, but I would rather have space than be close.

I was surprised at myself how I knew some of the terminology. For example, when the announcer said, “top of the fifth”, I knew he meant that it was the fifth inning, and the first team was at bat. I knew “hits”, “errors”, and what bases were. I wasn’t sure about the rules about stealing bases. I didn’t know what a batting average represents. Drew was there to help me out with that.

There were other things I didn’t understand, not the least of which was why there were so many people. Now, don’t misunderstand me. The place was practically empty. I didn’t count the ones I could see, but I wouldn’t be far off if I said there were less than one-hundred spectators. After sitting through nine innings of rare hits, only one run in the whole game, and almost everyone striking out, it was peculiar to me that people pay to watch it.

I was supposed to be rooting for the Portland Beavers, and for the most part, I was. Yet, the whole game was so devoid of anything happening, that if a member of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox got a hit, I was thrilled. I think the Beavers in the field hoped someone would get a hit too. It must be really boring to stand out there in the field, mitt on hand, and nothing to do. I’m a sucker for lonely men.

Well, I’m usually a sucker for men in uniform too, but that oddity wasn’t working well that night. Other than loving the time with Drew, my favorite part of the game was the home plate umpire. He was deadly attractive. The outing wasn’t totally useless.

So this is supposed to be an inspirational web site, and I don’t think I’ve said anything particularly inspirational yet. Well, all is not lost. I think it’s OK to be a man who doesn’t care that much about sports. There are plenty of things in life far more important than a game of baseball. Dealing with same-sex attraction is just something I do. I don’t think I need to man up or anything like that. I’m good just being me and knowing that I am acceptable to God. That’s inspiration enough for anyone.

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7 Responses to “Sports and Me”

  1. Jonathan Langford said:

    I have mixed feelings on this topic. On the one hand, there’s part of me that thinks it’s a shame I never got into sports, because (a) I would probably be in better shape if I had, and (b) on a philosophical/religious level I think it’s good to develop our potential in every area. I can’t help but think that if circumstances had been favorable in my growing up, I probably would have liked sports, and I regret that it never happened. (We tend to dislike things we’re bad at, and we tend to be bad at things we don’t do very often. So…)

    On the other hand, there’s part of me that’s somewhat disturbed at the notion that people might want to “fix” me through some kind of sports-reprogramming effort. That kind of thinking simply perpetuates the problem, in my opinion, by suggesting that those of us whose interests are more intellectual/artistic are inherently lacking in masculinity. It’s another message saying that the people we are isn’t acceptable and must be changed somehow.

    (I should also add that my feelings are similar about scouting, which I was never able to get into due to a variety of circumstances. It’s something I wish I had gotten into, not least because that might increase my chances of involving my own boys in scouting, which so far has been a total failure. Fortunately, no one has criticized their worthiness or masculinity or commitment to the gospel despite their lack of interest in it.)

    The thing that was really helpful for me in developing a (more) positive masculine self-image was to find other men who shared my academic interests but were still good husbands and fathers and admirable in other ways. I’d particularly cite a branch president in the Missionary Training Center who became a surrogate father to me, a literature professor, former head of the BYU Honors Program, and LDS playwright who has also served as a mission president (where he directed several plays, I think, as well as more orthodox outreach efforts) and patriarch. Showing me how the person I was could git into the gospel pattern proved much more valuable, I can’t help but think, than telling me that I needed to change who that person was. Which, if nothing else, probably means that sports-therapy would be a bad idea for someone like me…

    And on a completely unrelated note, I have to admit that I have always thought baseball is the most boring game in the entire world to watch (behind, say, volleyball, golf, and curling), and must be boring even to play. Certainly in elementary school when we would play it from time to time as part of PE, I never could see the point. Clearly, Rex, you and I do not feel the love and get the mystique.

  2. Jonathan Langford said:

    That’s “fit the gospel pattern,” not “git the gospel pattern.” Oops…

  3. Jeff Nelson said:

    Thanks Rex. Being same-sex attracted myself and with the exception of loving to play tennis with my high school friends, I am not a sports fan. I can sure identify with what you wrote. And yes I was always picked last. In school I would be assigned to right field because balls were hit there less often than in left field. I would stand out there and pray that no one would hit a ball to me. I think I did hit a ball once or twice and even made it to first or second base. Everyone cheered. Wow was that an ego booster but it was short lived!

    When we lived in San Diego my family of 5 kids wanted to go to the play-off’s OR was it the world series? Getting caught up in the excitement of it all, it was about the only time I enjoyed being at a sporting event. If it WAS the World Series I can’t imagine paying that much for tickets, but for my kids had the time of their life. Seeing them happy always makes happy too.

    Speaking of stereotypes my therapist says same-sex attracted men are almost always more sensitive than straight men. That might be right. What do you think?

  4. Rex Goode said:

    Thanks, Jeff. I don’t know about the sensitive thing. I’m kind of an odd mixture between sensitive and hardened. As with the sports thing, I’m too complex to fit any stereotype completely. Do you think of yourself as sensitive?

  5. Jeff Nelson said:

    Hi Rex. Do I think of myself as sensitive? Well I think that for a good part of my life I took many things people said personally. Got my feelings hurt easily. But now I am somewhat better at seeing things a little more realistically and I don’t get my feelings hurt as easily. So if this is what my therapist meant by sensitivity then I guess it fits me.

  6. Rex Goode said:


    When I was Scoutmaster, the ward YM leaders were totally OK with boys who didn’t like Scouting. I’m not saying they were wrong, but I think that it’s much more acceptable among men in this time to not like Scouting than it is to not like sports. In fact, there is an ongoing battle between basketball and Scouting. I wasn’t sick very often when I was a Scoutmaster, but when I was, those who took over troop meetings for me invariably just let them play basketball all evening, despite whatever else was planned. It made it all the harder the next week to get them back to the program. Handing a bunch of YM a basketball and letting them go at it is a lot less work than having a good troop meeting.

  7. Jonathan Langford said:

    I think it depends on the particular group. I’d say that in our current ward, there’s more emphasis on scouting than sports. Despite that, my son (who’s not into scouting or sports) was quite well accepted. I definitely appreciated that.

    We don’t have the basketball-as-default in current ward, but I certainly grew up with that. Usually I’d just read a book on the side. I think there was about a year when we did nothing except play basketball, to the best of my recollection. Pretty much all the other young men except me seemed to be happy about that.

    I’m almost under the impression that video games are the new sports among teenage boys: the activity pretty much everyone does and talks about. Guys who actually do sports seem to be a minority. That could just be my exposure, though.

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