This is an entry about one kick-ass sentence — a one-word sentence, in fact. But for context I need a bit of lengthy intro. So here goes…
A topic I’ve long intended to address on my hockey blog* is that of homophobia and gay slurs and the general macho culture in sports and the locker room. It’s a tricky subject — sociologically, sports seem to encourage hyper-masculine values to the point where even um… “enlightened”(?) minds will engage in reprehensible language or behavior.
Gay humans can comfortably joke about stereotypes and gender roles with their straight friends, just as anyone can joke about their own ethnic or religious stereotypes in the company of those they trust, as a way of making fun of the stereotype itself. But the expected norms of a locker room change make this subject different, I think, both because of those prevailing values but also because sexual orientation is not a “visible” difference like race or even (much less so) religion. When will an active male athlete in one of the major sports come out?
The reason it would be great is precisely because of that culture: Suddenly legions of jackass sports fans who subscribe to the hyper-masculine structure to the point of gay-bashing would be forced to confront this, and frankly, that moment of reflection would be good for society.
That was a long intro. My point is there have been a few columns recently about this topic, and one of them, though somewhat clunky in its construction, had a great one-word sentence that, as a reader, I admired. It’s at the end of this paragraph, about a former high school hockey player who works for a college hockey program and recently came out to his family (and later, his team/program). His father is a very well-known GM in hockey and has one of the more “tough” images among executives in the sport. What follows is the paragraph in question:
Just a week before, your older sister, Katie, is the first family member you tell. You had targeted telling your family at Thanksgiving but got salmonella and spent the entire week in the hospital. So you push back your announcement to Christmas.
You are driving home from a family event in Marlboro, Mass., when you decide you want to [tell your sister] during the car ride. Finally, after a 45-minute ride, you pass the city limits sign of Boston and you know you have to tell Katie. It is incredibly difficult, but your sister is very supportive. Of course she is, you tell yourself, she’s Katie. That same night, you tell Molly and your mom. Everyone is great. Mom tells you she isn’t surprised and had expected it from the time you were a little kid. Moms.
It probably doesn’t translate as well unless you were reading along with the whole column (and again, some people found the second-person imagine-this-is-you construction clunky). But still: “Moms.” Pretty cool, in context. I don’t know how many one-word sentences could pack that kind of wallop, but it makes sense that “Moms” is one of them.
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*Incidentally, my little hockey site experiment is going well. I really don’t know where I intend to go with it (likely: down in flames of exhaustion), but I just received an unsolicited “must-read” compliment from one of the well-known giants in that field, who recently told his readers: “[My name] does superb work on your favorite team. He brings something different, he brings facts to back up his points. Of all the bloggers unable to follow the hockey team 24/7 – wait, that’s everyone – [my name] does the best work.”
[He’s referring just to coverage of the team I cover, by the way — not the whole landscape.] That was cool. I’ve mostly kept the two worlds separate, because I’m not after publicity, nor sending hockey fans after my non-hockey musings and vise versa. I don’t really promote that site much either, because rather than sheer traffic numbers, I just want to attract fellow fans who take the same approach to sports that I do. (They are fun, magical, but not serious, and not worth fighting over.) Organic growth over TMZ-style B.S. headlines and boob shots. I suppose at some point in our shaky new media world I might want to “brand” and use whatever traction I’ve built from it. But for now, the experiment and lessons continue…just something I wanted to try and see how I do.