It looks like I have a new team to root for. Erik Spoelstra let it slip that members of the Miami Heat were caught crying in the locker room after a big-time loss to the Chicago Bulls. And while the Chicago Sun Times thought it would be heeeelarious by putting up a photo of LeBron with the words "crying game" on the cover this morning, I'm pretty darn proud of the Heat this morning for taking a loss to heart. Maybe even taking it "like a MAN"?
Yup, if there's one phrase that makes my skin crawl as a mom, it's this: "Boys don't cry." Why the flip not? I can tell you their tear ducts function just fine, because I can cut onions like nobody's business, but my husband can't even be in the same room, or he's a crying fool. And if my daughter cries, it's not because she's a girl, folks. It's because she's a human being.
So boys can cry. And boys should cry. Especially after big losses. You know why? Because it's good to really love what you do.
When my 5-year-old sat in our living room Saturday evening, tears streaming down her face because her two favorite babysitters had just left, I didn't pick on her for caring about them. I held her in my arms and assured her that she would see the girls the next day, and that they love her too. I can't even find it in my liberal heart to pick on Speaker of the House John Boehner's waterworks weakness. Because it shows he's passionate. He CARES.
What? That's all different? One's a 5-year-old. One's the speaker of the freakin' house. Not at all the same as sports?
Except they both care. And that's why you play a game, right? For the "love of the game"? The term itself is cliched, but we could always use players like the guys from the Heat to remind us that the sentiment behind it remains. Guys who play not for a paycheck but because there's nothing as satisfying as the swish of a ball going through a net or the thwap of your palm on the ball as you dribble up the court.
Today we're hearing that this crying jag by the Heat was unacceptable because it was "just" a regular season game, not anything major. But what does that teach our kids? That you shouldn't care about doing your best every time you go out on the court? That you need a really good reason to let your feelings out?
If we care about sports enough to let our kids play them, shouldn't that be a good enough reason? I remember the one time I saw members of my high school's boys' basketball team crying. It was a big game, although it was long enough ago that I don't remember the details except that our boys had lost. And yes, there were tears. Tears that I still remember, years later, and still can identify with each particular boy. Those tears were genuine. Those tears made me realize these guys who talked a big game really cared about what they were doing. They made me think better of some boys who could be your typical high school teenage boy -- complete *ssholes most of the time. Seeing boys cry made me like them. It made me feel like they were real people who I could relate to -- people who, just like me, cry when they're hurt or angry or sad or upset or ...
Seeing that members of the Miami Heat were crying in the locker room just made me like them more too. How about you? What's your take on crying in sports?
Image via bridgetds/Flickr