‘No Crying in Basketball’ showcases Media’s true colors

By:
Published: March 8, 2011

It’s the hot topic right now on every sports radio talk show. Entire segments are dedicated to it on ESPN and even casual NBA fans are talking around the office water coolers about the fact that several Miami Heat players were crying in the locker room following a tough loss on Sunday afternoon to the Chicago Bulls. Fans are labeling the players soft, players in other locker rooms are speculating as to which Heat players were shedding the tears, and analysts from every sport are chiming in to rip these guys to shreds for daring to show the wrong emotion in a man’s game. As a society we often like to praise ourselves for how far we have come. Then an incident like this occurs and it is blatantly obvious that this statement simply is not true.

Most would have you believe that in this progressive nation of ours, the goal is to empower citizens to make their own choices without fear of being oppressed or marginalized. The truth is, however, that we only feel safe when we can stick groups of people inside of a box that reflects a societal norm. For men, this is called the ‘Be a Man’ box and you are placed in that box from the day you are born and most men live in that box until the day that they die.

This box tells you that only certain emotions are good, while others simply are not allowed because you were born a male. Anger and hostility are acceptable for some reason, but any emotion that implies vulnerability are not. The uninformed will attribute the desire for males to lash out in anger to high testosterone levels, but the scientific research continually shows that men are prone to anger because it is an emotional substitute for other, less acceptable emotions.

Numerous studies have also shown that there is no real difference in the way that men and women experience sadness, but there is considerable difference as to how they express these feelings. An incident like this one with the Heat showcases exactly why this continues to be the case. Does anybody think that it would have been a national story if the Connecticut Huskies women’s basketball team would have been seen crying after their winning streak was snapped earlier this year? Would analysts and fans alike have questioned their ability to win the National Championship because of it? Would they have been labeled “soft”?

Of course not, and it is because showing that kind of emotion is acceptable for a woman and actually serves to enhance their perceived character in certain situations. For men, however, it becomes a scarlett letter that they are branded with for life. It follows them around everywhere that they go and they are continuely asked to justify it or apologize for it because of its abnormality.

That is exactly where this whole situation is heading with the Miami Heat. Erik Spoelstra is getting heavily criticized for casually mentioning that his players were crying in the locker room because it is seen as a betrayal of sorts. There is a perception (unfortunately it is likely a correct one) that the Heat players will be held accountable for the actions of their coach, as if what they did was shameful in the first place. They will continually have to defend this apparent sin to the media, while simultaneously hearing taunting chants from fans and players alike.

But why is this such a big story in the first place? Why did this strike a cord with media members more than anything else Coach Spoelstra said in his post-game press conference? Why have the Heat’s late game struggles and apparent lack of cohesiveness taken a back seat to the fact that they showcased a perfectly natural human emotion?

It is because new-age media has more of a desire to make news than it does to report on it, and they recognized this as a vehicle that could accomplish that objective the second that Spoelstra opened his mouth. From that point on, a story was born. Armchair psychologists posing as newspaper writers and bloggers took to their computers to label these players as soft. Others said that these were fear based tears or that the Heat were simply cracking under the pressure.

Again we see a need to justify or explain something that inherently needs no explanation. And if you think this is just about sports or basketball, then you are missing the big picture. Like it or not, these athletes are role models for the youth of this country. Dwayne Wade had the fifth best selling NBA jersey this season, LeBron was first. They are both faces of numerous ad campaigns and have followers in the millions on their social media platforms. Without question, young men are looking to these athletes for examples of how to live their life in some form or fashion.

What are we telling these young men when we pile on their heroes for showing this kind of emotion? What are fans of Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudamire going to think when they read that their hero is laughing at these guys for crying in the locker room? Do you think that they are more or less likely to express their anger or frustration in a healthy way the next time an incident occurs?

The answer to that question is not a rhetorical one. You want the answer, go and attend a Challenge Day at a local high school or volunteer to mentor a student in an urban community. I have done both and there is no question that this message is out there. “Be a Man, don’t cry, don’t be a punk, don’t act like a wimp; toughen up, don’t act like a girl.”

And we all know where these messages lead, yet we keep promoting them through our rhetoric. It is no longer acceptable and rather than crucifying a group of men, we can actively choose to embrace them and praise their bravery. If we are going to create the news rather than report on it, let us create something positive that can influence a generation that still has a chance to live a life free of ignorant mentalities such as these.

The opportunity is right in front of us to right a wrong that has gone on for far too long, and I for one am willing to step out of that box to enact change and I look forward to hearing from every one of you willing to join me.

43 comments
HornetsGal
HornetsGal

Fabulous article. It's about time it was spelled out for all to understand how wrong the criticism of men's emotions are. As stated, we all feel the same emotions and should all be able to express ourselves the same. Great job Mike!

bgalella
bgalella

Remember when everyone was saying the regular season didn't matter in basketball? This clearly shows it does, hopefully everyone will realize this and it will help avoid a lockout next season.

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

i agree the article seems to say that the 'no crying' in basketball showcases media's ineptitude to be human. It once was, but it will never be again. Some comments seem to focus on the Miami Heat situation than the crying situation. Just saying.

Hardwood Hype
Hardwood Hype

Great post. In the wake of this incident, I've felt the exact frustration that you expressed here. Not with the members of the Heat who shed a few tears. They- like you said- have done nothing more than express a basic, perfectly natural human emotion. When I heard Spoelstra's comment, my reaction was to shrug and think "hey, at least they care." That the media has taken this non-event and elevated it to the absolute top of the news cycle is shameful. Not one story written about this or one piece commentary from a TV talking head is about Heat. This is all about media members going out of their way to prove that the scope of their intellect expands beyond the games they cover.

Mystic
Mystic

It's pretty hilarious to watch people attempt to make excuses for the Heat's crying. I'm especially tickled by the attempts to compare to other athletes who've famously cried over the years; the one common thread running thru EACH and EVERY reference being that the criers lost DURING THE PLAYOFFS. If you can't see the difference between crying when your season has ended -- when everything you've worked for over the span of 7, 8, 10 months or more, has ended in failure, and crying at the end of regular season game #63, then something is terribly wrong with your perspective, just as it is for those Heat players. Please analyze THIS situation and stop trying to rip it out of context and conflate it into a generalized issue of crying in sports. To any objective observer, the Heat's frustrations are clearly bubbling over because they didn't think things would be this hard; didn't think they'd do anything less than run rough-shod over the NBA. There isn't a player on that team that isn't a grizzled vet of at least 7 years (save for Mario Chalmers). You're gonna actually imply that they haven't been thru regular season losses before? Is your memory so short that you've forgotten LeBron's first couple of NBA seasons? How about all the losing Bosh has endured in Toronto? How is this season any harder than last season was for Wade??? They've all been thru losing on this level before. It has never driven them to such levels of frustration in the past, nor has it in any of the poor examples given. What makes this situation, this year, any different? They are succumbing to the pressure. The pressure that they put on themselves in thinking everything would've fallen into place by now, which such a horribly flawed team. Look at what they did tonight to try to turn around this stretch: Wade and James take nearly 60% of their team's shots, and they peter out in the final quarter against a more balanced effort. That is direct evidence of a set of players (calling them a 'team' is an offense to the word) who are riding emotion more than introspection. They really believe ballhogging is going to fix their problems? I'm sorry, but you are way off in your defense -- celebration? -- of this petulant display of emotion and entitlement at the expense of thinking and intelligent introspection. I am utterly surprised at all the co-signers to this ridiculously-overreaching column.

roop
roop

Thank you, Michael, for writing this article. This really needed to be said, and I haven't seen it expressed so clearly anywhere else yet. The closest thing I've seen was Ron Artest's interview on NBA tv (http://www.nba.com/video/channels/nba_tv/2011/03/07/20110307_artest_mia_cry.nba/). When he was asked about it, he said simply "i think it's good to cry... i think it's good to let your emotions out rather than keep it inside." He then shared that crying is a routine part of his sessions with his shrink. Who's more courageous, the athlete who admits this in front of his colleagues, fans and the media? Or all the snickering bloggers and commenters who join this tired pile-on? I'm afraid Ron-Ron just continues to grow in stature as time goes by. @Kelly and all those who think this is only a big story because it's happening to those arrogant Miami superfriends, you've badly missed the point. If that were the case, then the losing streak, the inability to close out games, the poor performance against elite teams, all those things would *themselves* be the story (as they were before Spoelstra's comments). But the fact that since Sunday all anyone can talk about is Crygate should tell you that it is the expression of emotion and vulnerability which is being penalized and policed here, and that is to everyone's detriment. Especially to the young fans of all these players, as the author of this post rightly points out.

Kelly
Kelly

@Roop, So you're suggesting that since the "Crygate" came out then no one is talking about the Heat losing? No. The fact is that this isn't about grown men expressing vulnerability. It's about gown men expressing self pity. Wes Leonard's coach hasn't been mocked for shedding tears. There are valid reasons for expressing vulnerability. The Heat's tears aren't one of. The reason this is a story is that at a time when they should have been showing resolve they showed weakness, not vulnerability.

L_REAZY
L_REAZY

'42' ... I actually like Q-Pon as well. As Hubie Brown would say, "He has long arms and a ton of talent." I like his NBA ready stature. He is more of a 'driver' and 'post-up' player at the 3-spot. Not really a three point shooter, but that's fine. I love his up-side on the defensive side of the ball. He will prove his worth as a solid role player of the bench in this league, because he is very coachable. He might only score 6 points in 18-20 minutes at times, but the shots he normally takes are usually high percentage ones. He is not going to hurt your team. I love the Jack, Green, Pondexter, & Landry unit. Three scorers around Pondexter will always enable him to be a reliable 4th option off the bench. L_REAZY

L_REAZY
L_REAZY

... also, Q-Pon is a more effective 'driver' to the hoop when he gets the ball on the wing / in the three point corner, and is able to drive around the mid-post screen. He is a decent finisher! L_REAZY

Michael
Michael

I am a Washington Husky fan and I follow Quincy Pondexter and I saw what Mcnamara said about Pondexter and gave him that nickname. I want to say that in a couple of years the Hornets are coming to Seattle because of low fan support in New Orleans, much less than in Seattle. Our team was robbed and we deserve a team more than you. About Q Pon he is a very talented player that in a few years will be good, it is unfair to say he does not get stats when he gets like 2 minutes a game. It seems you wrote based purely on frustration of a loss which is not what good writers do. Basketball may be your life, but does not mean you know a lot about it.

QueenBee
QueenBee

If Seattle had such great fan support, why wasn't it enough to keep the team in Seattle? See, this is what I don't understand. No team has left it's market because of fan support. And yet, people keep saying this. Fan support didn't keep the Sonics in Seattle. If the Kings move, it won't be because of fan support or lack thereof. Is someone really coming to a Hornets blog site to take shots at who he thinks 'deserves' a team more than New Orleans? Really? LMAO. GTFO.

Chuck
Chuck

For the record, New Orleans lost its basketball team (the Jazz) before Seattle did. I have no idea why you are taking shots at someone, especially since all the writers on this site are great, but if you want a team in Seattle and want to build around Quincy Pondexter, good luck with that. I agree that he will be better than he has shown, but I can't see him ever being better than say a Tayshaun Prince. Although that's still pretty good

42
42

By the way, I think Q has more of a future than most. I'd love to hear more of what you have to say about his game and potential.

42
42

I certainly hope Seattle gets a team back and keeps it for a very long time. I know some charming folks from Seattle. I was treated very well at a Seahawks game (Saints, a few years ago) by the people around me. What happened to you was WRONG. I, however, don't wish that to happen to anyone else and don't think anyone deserves it. Should it happen, you should benefit. What I'm saying and what you are saying, however, are very different. I really hope you mean what I mean. Thanks, Michael.

QueenBee
QueenBee

I mean really. Some people have nerve. I, like you 42, don't wish that on any fan but for someone to come in here and spout that 'we deserve more than you' **** don't sit well with me. Go cry to your city/state leaders that let your 40 year old franchise go. Don't cry to a fan blog site who's team you'd like to get.

ktrufant
ktrufant

Really enjoyed the post Mr. McNamara, almost more than some of the Hornets related ones (kidding but reading about yet another Hornets late game collapse can get to be disheartening). Anyway, good look on the level-headed criticism. It keeps the mean world syndrome (the internet kind) at bay.

buzz
buzz

I love this website....Michael that was a fantastic article. I've been thinking about lately why I support the hornets, I was trying to work out why i’m so god-damn passionate, I love this team. I’m not from Louisiana, I’m not even American. I love basketball, but its more than that, to me they aren’t just a basketball team. They represent something that is greater and more important. They are the little man with small-time values, trying to make it in a cynical, hypocritical world. To me, the Hornets represent this little segment of the world that is just content with being uncomplicated and uninteresting. The NBA is a microcosm of western society; and the Miami Heat are the Kardiashians; people want to see them screw up and the media knows this, it sells. The hornets are boring, they are Tom Hanks, they get ignored by the American media. They just go about their business and offer a quality product (usually). The Hornets franchise have an enormous capacity to keep things in perspective and maintain a social perspective, and this is also reflected from this website. That article was spot on, and reminds me why I am drawn to this website on a daily basis from the other side of the world (Australia). You just get it. This website allows me to follow the game that I love, and not feel like a total and utter sell-out.

NOEngineer
NOEngineer

People that have earned respect (Marines, MJ, John Boehner) and cry for reasons other than their frustration at not succeeding should be given support. Men that cry because someone beat them at a game that means next to nothing (playoffs are assured) deserve scorn and ridicule. If one of those same men is an arrogant self-promoting braggart that screwed over a city in the most humilating way possible, bring the dump truck!

ktrufant
ktrufant

NOEngineer I like when you talk Hornets basketball but holding that anyone DESERVES scorn and ridicule is the main ingredient in a recipe for an arbitrary but very hot conflict. I mean we all can talk about who deserves scorn and ridicule but you understand that the standards will vary greatly ... and no one really enjoys being the object of scorn and ridicule ... and, truth be told, scorn and ridicule never won any basketball game that I've ever seen.

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

Great Article. Although i dislike the Heat, it is their responsibility for being under this kind of scrutiny. However, it is not their fault that they cried. It should be perfectly natural for a man to cry when he feels sadness or frustration. I for one was labeled a crybaby when i lost the championship back in my High School days. But it was not a sign of weakness, more of a sign of humanity. Much like Adam Morisson's moment back in his college days. The media has grown into a monster who's intent is more of making news than reporting news. I detest them for that.

QueenBee
QueenBee

"The media has grown into a monster who’s intent is more of making news than reporting news. I detest them for that." Well said nikkoewan. Well said.

OkiThor
OkiThor

I used to be Marine years ago. The public's image of Marines are rag-tag, tough as nails types. For the most part that is true. I remember when everyone was presented the EGA after completing bootcamp. How many teary-eyed there? All of them, including me. Being tough and displaying emotion are not mutually exclusive.

Nithenz
Nithenz

Great article and nice to see this different kind of approach to this. I dont feel pity for the heat as they put themselves in this position, but i really dont care whats going on inside that locker room. I would love to know that the players on the team i root for are frustrated, cried or take something bad to change for better. Cant matter less if they cry, feel ashamed or frustrated as long as they use that to change and be better person / players / human beings. Do u think everyone was laughing after that game anyone wants to remember...? For sure not, and I hope they use that for motivation.

Mark
Mark

Good piece. For me, it just depends on the situation. Nobody doubted Michael Jordan winning the 'chip after his pops passed and crying on Father's Day. It also goes with the player themselves. I don't remember a huge deal being made from T-Mac's tearful post-game after bouncing from the first round, but people dogged on Terrell Owens. LeBron has conjured a negative public persona this season, so people love watching said villain fall.

Diane
Diane

Really good article really good comments. Personally I think crying is fine for everyone to let off steam. The Heat have been through a lot - even though its their own fault but they have to let this loss go and move on. PS I love that Robert Frost Poem!

42
42

Me, too. Frost is amazing. The best description I ever heard: Terrifying.

L_Reazy
L_Reazy

I'll play Devil's Advocate ... Rob Parker on ESPN First Take stated that, "Crying in sports implies that your frustrated about something, but you haven't put in the work to change that something; that is what causes you to become frustrated enough to cry." ... in sports. He made it seem like an 'Overindulgence' to stardom, fame, or even the red carpet being laid out for egotistical basketball players who just assume they will get whatever they want, win every game by large margins, and also win multiple championships just because they put X,Y, & Z players on the same team. Everything is based on how conceded or self-entitled they become. Rob Parker made his reference to the 'spoiled' Miami Heat basketball player(s) who is crying because things are not panning out as easily as they expected! Any thoughts on that analysis? L_REAZY

ktrufant
ktrufant

How does this explain all those NCAA Basketball tears? All of this "that's good for them, they deserve it" talk sounds kind of immature to me ...

L_REAZY
L_REAZY

...'ktrufant', That's just it ... this is about the Heat players crying. Being critical of grown men crying are two separate issues, according to Rob Parker. Men should have a right to express their emotions however they want and not be criticized. However, that really wasn't the case with the Heat right? They were crying -with their thumbs in there mouth- like little babies. That's not a 'MAN' issue ... that's a self-entitlement / "I feel priviledged" issue! When you feel entitled or priviledged you don't feel like you have to put in the same hard work as everyone else. In basketball terms ... "We'll get all the foul calls, all the Sportscenter highlights, all the NBA Finals trophies, and whatever else comes with being the entitled one! I like D-Wade, but the "BIG 3" from the Heat team, especially LeBrick James are very arrogant. They throw up garbage shots and expect to get foul calls, why, "because they're D-Wade, LeBron, and Bosh?" I get frustrated with D-Wade, because he differs too much to LeBron, almost to the point where he's trying to make sure James is comfortable at the expense of his own comfortability. Remember, everything has been easy for LeBron ever since he stepped on a basketball court, and showed his GOD given ability. Now, everything isn't that easy ... now what? Cry about it! L_REAZY

Chuck
Chuck

This isn't really new and it's not just limited to basketball. We saw this with John Boehner a couple months ago when all of a sudden people (read: Jon Stewart, who I love) kept making fun of him for crying. Adam Morrison is still a punchline for crying when Gonzaga lost in the NCAA tournament (well, there are other reasons too). JJ Redick cried when he lost in the tourney to LSU a few years ago (I'm sure a lot of people here remember this fondly). I don't think the crying itself is so bad. Spoelstra should have known better to say it, for sure, because he had to know what the media would do with it after the way the Heat have been covered. The bigger issue I have is that the Heat seem to be asking for sympathy after their abomination over the summer. I still remember LeBron counting the championships they were gonna win the afternoon after The Decision. "3...4...5! 6! 7!" it was like he just learned to count. And now Wade and Bosh are trying to say "see, we really care. You guys aren't being nice to us." And I'm pretty sure this is what the backlash is all about. If the Spurs lost 4 close games in a row because inexplicably Manu and TP couldn't score in the clutch, we wouldn't have this kind of reaction. It's simply because people (myself included) want to hate the Heat. TL, DR: news flash, people hate the Heat

paul
paul

Very good catch on that Stewart thing.... That's the society we live in. We live the life we want, not the one we preach. Sterwart, and everyone else that relies upon celebrity status to survive, cannot live a moral life, or at least don't, or shouldn't, pretend to. I just reprimanded a blogger on ATTHEHIVE for once again referring to Aaron Gray as the Great White Hope. Another example how we preach color blindness, but somehow still manage to find our black angels. On crying...anybody here on this sight that has EVER been in battle will understand the TRUE human fragility and the thin string that separates madness from sanity. Anybody here that has ever poked through the piles of dead bodies after suffering the wrath of human animalism with understand the need for men to cry. And these few understand the reason many never return from this nightmare. Return? Really...what for? They have seen what is really under the clothing and it's not pretty. Last note…To hell with Miami and King Hubris!!!!!!

paul
paul

Hey... I lived in the"Cosmic"! I still have friends there. Don't get there much any more as age seems to have narrowed my travels to the basic here and now. But...even trying to stretch the definition of name calling, it's impossible to call a nickname "name-calling". He himself hugs the King branding. So, no...I don't think calling Jame hubris is name calling. Describing a personality is not name calling. Not even close.

ktrufant
ktrufant

Not that I disagree, my memory of it is a little hazy ... was Stewart mocking Boehner's crying or his crocodile tears? In any case I get what you are saying. But I'll add that calling bloggers and Stewart out and then calling Lebron James names is, in the Cosmic Perspective, kind of small and hypocritical ... (teasing but really though ... King Hubris?)

Kelly
Kelly

Well, I kind of have to cry baloney on this. The reason it's a story is because the Heat kind of brought it on themselves with the celebration before the season started or before they ever practiced together. If there weren't the celebration this probably wouldn't be as big of a story. They wanted it to be easy and it wasn't, and that's why now they're crying about it...literally.

ktrufant
ktrufant

So even if it is as you (and Van Gundy before you?) say, that they celebrated when they were happy and believing they were the best in basketball, and now they are crying because it wasn't easy and they are sad, what does that have to do with anyone who isn't on the team? The crying was in the locker room after a game, I don't see how it was anything other than a safe expression of how some guys were feeling ... Saying that they brought it on themselves or implying that they deserve to be sad sounds hateful and a bit immature ... Which is kind of the point of the post. American society tends to pride itself on how progressive it is but acting like a team can't cry in their locker room after a tough loss is actually pretty regressive. If so much time were not spent on petty hatred of the Heat or "guys who cry", we'd have that much more time to figure out something that actually moves things forward ...

QueenBee
QueenBee

Spoelstra put it out there but the media magnifies it. I mean did Phil Jackson just come out and say big boys don't cry on his own, or was he asked about it by a member of the media? Knowing Phil though, it could be either one but I'm willing to bet he was asked by a media member his thoughts on this one. I just hope Phil said this to Fisher and Kobe when they were sitting on the bench crying while they were going down in those playoffs that season.

Kelly
Kelly

It's not hateful or immature. It's merely an accurate response to the question the writer asks, "Why is it such a big story in the first place?" It's not a big story because, "the new-age media has more of a desire to make news than it does to report on it." The media did not "make" this story, Erick Spoelstra did. It's a big story because of who was doing the crying. Just keeping things factual.

Foureazy
Foureazy

You just quoted Stan Van Gundy. You must have just read his comments on espn.com and posted this rite after. I hope you plan on giving him credit for that statement.

Kelly
Kelly

I honestly had no idea that Van Gundy said it. It's hardly a unique sentiment though.

bgalella
bgalella

I agree, wouldn't it be much more frustrating if the Heat didn't care after losing another close game? There is a ton of pressure on the team to win every night and it's obvisouly taking its toll on the team. While crying after a regular season loss may be a little much, it's a good thing that the Heat care about each and every game.

42
42

Mike, I like the way you think. Mostly because you actually do so. Robert Frost's oft-mistaught poem about individualism is truly as masterpiece. It's often said to be about individualism because the narrator took the road less traveled and that made all the difference. Well, he didn't say it was better, it was different. He also said he wanted to go back and take that other road. No, no, it's a false individualism, that one. Ah, so true individualism must be leaving the paths altogether, yeah? No. That's just defining yourself in opposition. True individualism comes from living life, path or no. What does this have to do with the Mi-a-me-s? I've been very conflicted about these folks since `it' happened. On the one hand they used what was available to them and thumbed their noses at the man (merit). On the other hand, they just appear like they are reveling in their conniving, making them appear immature and weak (demerit). Regardless, I will never condemn passion. I will never condemn expressions of passion that don't wound people. Kudos to the Heat players expressing themselves. Hopefully, something can come from this debacle.

johnny w
johnny w

i'm a dedicated lurker here at hornets247, and this was the first time i've felt the need to comment on something. beautifully written. these are points about basketball that go way beyond basketball. in an ideal world, this article would be on the front page of espn.

CP3 4 MVP
CP3 4 MVP

Set aside basketball, and this is what I like to call the "American paradox" People in this country claim individuality be stating the various groups of societal norms they fall under. "I'm an individual because I like to dance and watch this show and see these movies....etc." This is the single biggest problem I have with this country. Have you ever encountered a personal who refers to themselves as social, or say they "love to meet new people," but would never dare to walk up to someone on the street and start a conversation? - This is a contradiction in itself. This is not world culture. This is American culture. Newsflash: You can't be an individual if you only assimilate yourself to social norms.

Trackbacks

  1. […] ice coldMiamiHerald.comSpo: There's No Crying in Heat BasketballNBC MiamiGlobe and Mail -Hornets247.com (blog) -Khabreinall 1,887 news […]