I'm a woman who has been puzzled and bemused for a long time by the male fixation on sports. How can a man remember the batting averages of all the players in last year's World Series, but not know the shoe size of the woman he's been married to for 10 years? Why does a man buy a newspaper, read every word of the sports section, and throw away the rest without even glancing at it? Why is a professional basketball player paid a salary that rivals (and often exceeds) that of the CEO of a major corporation, who is responsible for managing a trillion-dollar budget and thousands of employees? And why, when a local writer received a major national award, was she relegated to a few column-inches in the Local section of the paper, while the firing of a high school football coach made the front-page headlines?
Nelson's book confirmed what I'd long suspected: as women have gradually broken through one glass ceiling after another, men have retreated into sports as the last bastion of traditional masculinity. It's a world in which "girl" is used as an insult, where men are permitted to express their affection only by punching each other, and where the only females allowed on the premises are decorative servants. But for those who claim that this is harmless male bonding and dismiss its critics as man-haters, Nelson shows the darker side: high school athletes who rape with impunity, glorification of mindless violence, and perpetuation of a concept of "masculinity" defined by behavior that would make a Neanderthal blush.
While it's possible to pick holes in some of her arguments (I know female sports fans who are as ardently partisan as any man), I think Nelson's analysis is generally well done and convincing. My only criticism is that I would have appreciated more suggestions on "Where do we go from here?" But I think awareness of the problem is more than half the battle, and she's certainly done an excellent job of that! Every parent in America should read this book.