The Purple Dogs
A Journey Into US College Sports
Purple has never been my favourite colour. Something about it confronts me, potentially seeded in a lifelong distaste for royalty and Catholicism. Or does it lie in an internalised view on gender that is entrenched in our collective subconscious? Do I feel this way about purple because I am a man and men are tough and purple isn’t tough like blue? Whatever the case, here I am at the University of Washington in Seattle, draped in plumes of gold and purple. The Husky is the mascot for the college teams that are the antiquated sled of collegiate America. I believe sport gives us an insight into the undercurrents that drive American society. In Australia, sport is a social lubricant. In America, sport dominates the zeitgeist on levels I still don’t understand. More than having a cultural hegemonic control, sports operate to propagate the patriarchy. Even more so than in my home country of green and gold, sports are genuinely used as a ‘justification’ for male hierarchy insofar as ‘female sports are boring’. I will follow this sled deep into the core of the Pacific Northwest and see what it reveals about the inner workings of the American male.
I had arrived in America three days before my first exposure to the Dawg Pack. Bags delayed, my first American bar experience coincided with the Chick-fil-A peach bowl in Atlanta. This duel was between the ‘football’ teams of the Huskies and the Crimson Tide from the University of Alabama, which seems like the least communist school in the least communist city in America. The Crimson Tide were reigning champions unaware of their name’s reference to the menstrual cycle. The Tide went on to nationalise UW’s defense and make the offence look like the bourgeoisie hiding away in their gilded palaces unable to stop the rolling force of the Red Army. The loss was palpable. Football at it’s essence is just a bunch of dudes running a ball up and down a field, but seeing the devastation that swept across the bar was genuine. This loss left a bar full of jocks in shock, unable to process the idea that the force that justified their flimsy relationships had just seized. It was as if the whole situation was the victory of the vaginal flow over the chauvinistic forces of collegiate sports.
The following day provided the Doggos with a chance to increase collective morale. The game was against rival team Washington State, draped in maroon; the cousin of Crimson. The Men’s basketball team has guard Markelle Fultz, tipped to be in the first round draft pick of the Heat this year. The team lacked hustle. No spirit. The team didn’t even dip their hands into the endless pot of rebounds. This team failed to restore masculinity to the fragile frat boys. Many left early, unable to bear the pain of supporting a team that let them down.
Redemption was yet to come. The UW female basketball team was good. These players have a very good chance of winning the whole thing. This was one of the most intense games of basketball I have ever witnessed in my life. Comparing crowd sizes between the female and male teams illuminates the extent to which American sports blindly propagate the patriarchy, much the same as Australia. The crowd for the women’s game was roughly half full. Students get free tickets, unlike the male game in which you pay $12 for sub-par hooping. The real fool here is society itself because I witnessed a wild game between UW and UCLA. For free. The umpires made both teams talk about their behavior because the fouls had gotten out of hand. In the end, the Dogs absolutely dominated. Weed is legal in Seattle, so before walking in I smoked a little joint. Mind opened, I saw that there were free seats at the courtside. Sitting beside an old hippie couple who graduated from UW in 1969, we witnessed a purple pack of Huskies put the UCLA Bruins in ruins. Courtside. For free. The male teams of UW were unable to make me feel the energy to stand and dish out three fingers with each shot from behind the line. For the first time, I felt proud to wear purple. This is the story that is left out of sports journalism: unlike the men that fell short, the women’s team fought tooth and nail for the victory that they then achieved. If anything, the women embodied the coldblooded mentality that is projected onto the male teams, which is more fitting for collegiate America than anything else. Yet you still get into the games for free.
Will the Huskies maintain a pack-like mentality to drive UW’s sled through to march madness? Will the insanity of the first month of spring get to the girls, or will their dedication and strength be the perpetual bone to their muzzle? Only time will tell. But time makes fools of us all. So if society wants to be straight foolish, jboi will cry for the Dogs until his larynx is purple.