I didn’t grow up being a fan of football (or soccer) – you know, twenty-two men dribbling a ball and sweating on green grass? It wasn’t my thing. Sure, I dabbled in playing it as any young boy might, trying to fit in with his classmates and peers, but it never appealed to me. This didn’t mean I thought people who liked it were ridiculous. To each his own, no?
These other people didn’t think so.
“You be gay?” “How you no go like football? Shay you be woman?”
And so, I began to shut up if someone asked if I was into football, nodding my head instead because it was the appropriate and more “manly” option. I would fall back to saying Manchester United as my preferred team, not knowing the basic details of the team, not knowing if they were objectively good or bad. ‘Red Devils’ and Wayne Rooney felt like enough information. I would still be participating in it at school, even though I knew I’d rather be elsewhere. I would feign interest if there were people gathered, watching a match. I would shout, in celebration, when necessary. I would curse, in anger, when necessary. I would conform.
Even when I would sometimes say I preferred basketball, I would still get a look of dissatisfaction – football was top tier, the better choice.
But what is it about football and masculinity? What makes the two topics mutually inclusive? Why does it seem like a staple requirement to be a football lover if you’re a man? I can never understand why. And when I’d ask these questions, all I would get would be akin to a shrug. “Na so e dey be.” It is the status quo.
But it is okay not to like football – or other things. When people grow up thinking there are certain things they are supposed to like or dislike because of their gender, it enforces the societal stereotypes we as a new generation are working so hard to abolish.
If you think this close-minded way, ask yourself why it is pertinent for young boys to grow up liking football. Did you develop a compelling, well-thought-out answer, free of contradiction and a weak basis?
This article was written by Tobi Are; connect with him on Instagram via here
Too busy to visit our blog every day? We get it! Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and get our best stories delivered to your mailbox every Friday!