January 12, 2006
RICHARD J. ROSENDALL
A feel for the game
As I write this, Washingtonians have temporarily set aside concerns over Judge Alito and George Bushís metastasizing second-term scandals, because our football team is in the playoffs. Being worn out from gay activism and a busy holiday season, I have succumbed to Redskins fever. I like the pre-game interviews best, because I can admire the fine young athletes without all their gear on.
One of the nice things about being ďoutĒ with my family is that, as I am watching a game with my brother-in-law on Thanksgiving afternoon, he is not shocked if I comment on how cute a particular player looks with his dreads poking out from under his helmet.
Seriously, though, protective gear is the biggest drawback of American football. By contrast, baseball and soccer do not involve excessive covering up of lovely, sweaty players. On several evenings last summer, I sat with my binoculars in RFK Stadium admiring Washington Nationals shortstop Cristian Guzman, who was in a hitting slump but is an agile infielder and is perfectly adorable. On other days, when D.C. United was on the field, I felt less guilty admiring soccer phenom Freddy Adu, because he had finally reached the Districtís consent age of 16. Okay, he may not be an appropriate object of fantasy, but Iíve seen him up close without his shirt on, and that is not the body of a mere boy.
Last night I got into the playoff spirit by watching the movie Remember the Titans, set 35 years ago across the Potomac in Alexandria, in which Denzel Washington coaches a newly integrated team to victory and overcomes racism at T.C. Williams High. The filmís biggest inspiration for me is luscious Scrubs actor Donald Faison, who displays major beefcake along with a smile that makes me melt. I never knew I liked football this much. The movie even includes a gay kiss in the locker room. I donít know if thatís historically accurate, but I had similar impulses in my high school locker room in the 1970s, and itís nice seeing another step out of the celluloid closet.
Back on the pre-game show, a Redskins teammate says of safety Sean Taylor, ďHeís the kind of guy other players feed off of.Ē Watching Mr. Taylor, I completely sympathize. I suppose I am annoying jocks by my inattention to the game. All I can say is, you play your way and Iíll play mine.
On ABC, a gorgeous former player with an earring is comparing the defensive squads of the Buccaneers and the Redskins. Excuse me, but if these guys donít want me ogling them, they should stop making themselves so pretty. I recently read a book by former NBA star Charles Barkley entitled, Whoís Afraid of a Large Black Man? I would like to assure Mr. Barkley that the prospect of him looming over me might quicken my pulse, but not from fear.
I confess I have a weakness for bad-boy antics from star athletes. The notorious Terrell Owens, for example, may have a big mouth, and he can make homophobic cracks about other players, but letís be honest, he is just as hot as he thinks he is ó which may be what got him into trouble. Neither do I think Tiger Woodsís caddie should be tossing peopleís cameras into water hazards, but then those clods should not have been crowding my man Tiger.
Sadly, Tiger actually belongs to Swedish model Elin Nordegren, who met him after his friend Jesper Parnevik hired her as a nanny. (You have to give the lady credit for making the most of her position.) What I love best about Tiger, aside from the killer look he gets when heís in the lead on a Sunday afternoon, is what several golf announcers have also noted: how good he looks in his clothes. Sure, I can buy the same Nike shirts, but they drape so much more pleasingly over Tigerís well-developed pecs, traps and biceps. It is remarkable how many sportscasters feel compelled to comment on Tigerís physique as they watch him striding down the fairway.
My most unexpected stirrings as a sports fan came during the FIFA Womenís World Cup final in 1999, when Brandi Chastain ripped off her shirt and dropped to her knees after making her championship-winning penalty kick. As she was mobbed by her ecstatic teammates, for a fleeting moment I became a lesbian. What can I say, Brandi looked so hot in her sports bra, and all those sweaty women were piling on her, and ó well, I canít explain it. Great athleticism can have strange effects on a sensitive guy.