“Nakakabading naman yan,” a presumably straight actor said in a recent edition of a hugely popular sitcom where members of the cast alternately bend genders to the apparent delight of even many among and arguably still homophobic Filipinos.
The scene was of guys in a beach playing volleyball, and the actor did not want to join them, apparently fearful that to do so would make him gay—that was what his statement meant.
If we got his drift, he would rather play lacrosse (this is an originally very violent Native American game) or tae kwon do (to this corner, another equally violent and almost-bloody yet Olympic sport).
Or boxing or basketball or rugby, perhaps, to let people know that any guy who narrowed down his masculine view of the world into busted noses, slam dunks or penalty tries could not possibly be gay.
Volleyball, from where I sit, is not an easy sport for both men and women.
Make yourself, for one, as the receiver of a wicked serve thundering across the net and straight to your face (because you thought the ball was directed at one of the other five, weaker players on the court), leaving you half-dead if the ball hit the target.
Or, for another, be a blocker of a vicious spike from a seven-foot-two behemoth (yes, he’s the Russian Dmitriy Muserskiy, a member of the men’s team that won the volleyball gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics) and failing to stop the ball you land on the floor, face down, embarrassed but thankfully alive.
Besides, and this is just an opinion of a volleyball fan, not an expert, a volleyball game is not won—or lost—by a player or two, the absolutely team sport that it is (of course, basketball and others also are but that’s another story.)
Also, the game, just like football, has to be played creatively, a single point having to be constructed for a much longer time than, say, a slam dunk, which only feeds the ego of the Jameses and the Loves.
The bad rep that men’s volleyball has, in particular and internationally at the highest level, apparently stems from the sight of tall, good-looking players who instead should be playing basketball or any other discipline close to it in testosterone factor, anything at all but volleyball.
The good news is that no one among the Muserskiys of this planet has turned bading as far as we know for not picking lacrosse or tae kwon do.
In contrast, the rugby world was turned upside down in 2009 when Gareth Thomas said he was gay and he declared so while he was actively playing for his native Wales.
Then in 2013, the NBA was shocked by Jason Collins coming out, becoming the first male professional athlete in the United States to announce in public that he was gay.
Boxing, sorry, is not spared of practitioners who are gay.
In 2012, Orlando Cruz, a professional in the featherweight division from Puerto Rico, came out, becoming probably the first pug to leave the closet.
Volleyball, anyone, then?
And enough of stereotyping and profiling.