Friday, April 24, 2009

Boys Must Be Boys, But a Man's Gotta Do What a Man's Gotta Do

In "The Sportsman and the Well Lived Life," I question the worth of sports that don't point in any way to a productive life of some sort. "Much of modern athletic competition combines the awesome and the trivial--rare human ability combined with fruitless endeavor. But it has not always been so." Here is the video that got me thinking about it.

But these amazing basketball shots are something else entirely. (The song is really good too, but I don't know what it is. Well chosen. Suitable to the spirit of young men.)

I share the joy of these boys. I'm happy for them. And I'm impressed. But they're just boys. When boys become men, they put aside childish things and apply what they've learned as boys to serious adult pursuits.

This Danny MacAskill fellow, for example, is amazingly good on a bicycle, but unless he can find a military application for this skill he needs to stop wasting his life and turn to philosophy or business or something else that's not just goofing around impressively.

We have given far too much praise in the last half century to people who have never grown up, to adults who act like children. What does that say about us?


Anonymous said...


I grew up in the Bronx of the last '50s and '60s but was fortunate to be in a family that had a summer bungalow about 60 miles north in Putnam County. Thus, I had the benefit of both an urban culture and a country culture.

Spending summers upstate, my friends were country boys, used to going into the woods, camping overnight, and having our days to ourselves with no threat of nearby adult supervision.

Before long, I wanted to acquire the local accoutrements, guns and knives being my highest priorities. My city-girl mother wasn't having any of it; my father, born in Ireland and a WWII graduate, quickly became my only chance for a successfull acquisition. Initially, I separated him from his "war-knife" and subsequently began working on him for a 22 caliber rifle.

When my mother found out that my father was having me join a gun club in preparation for my new tool, he and my mother had an intensive dinner time discussion about the appropriateness of a relative youngster having his own firearm. My mother insisted that this was no way to raise a child. My father's conclusionary statement was "I'm not raising a child; I'm raising a man."

David C. Innes said...

Mr Sullivan,

You are a fine human being and a great American. "I'm not raising a child; I'm raising a man." Golden. I will remember that. I am honored that you would consider my thoughts worthy of your attention.

Harold Kildow said...

Dennis, that is fabulous. Your father is a good man. Makes me think of that book that was recently making the rounds of reviewers---something like the book of Danger for Boys, arguing that boys need to learn how to assess risk while enjoying it. David, the guy on the bike made me think of a kid we sort of took in when he was growing up--he was friends with our son and didnt have a good homelife of his own. But he could ride a bike--holy mackeral, not quite like the guy in the video, but he had some awesome tricks. He and I once rode downtown to the Cinco de Mayo festival, and right in the street as we were riding through he started what was called a "rock walk", kicking the rear of the bike around 180 degrees around, ride backward for a second, then kick it arouond again, full circle. As I kept riding straight, he was spinning around from the front tire to the back tire down a whole city block. The crowed started cheering--I dont think anyone had seen it done before. I was very proud--and amazed myself. I've lost touch with him, and miss him very much.

But your large rpoint David is correct; the olympic games. and most of folk contests are do do with work or battle--useful or necessary skills societies once had a care to cultivate in every man and boy. Now we have metrosexuals who love to shop and get their nails done.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the sentiment of your article. But I also have to say that watching the Danny MacAskill was pure joy!