Which is fair enough, although it's weird to look at a situation where a bunch of young bucks are:
- Asked to strip down to their skivvies so that they can judged like Westminster dogs
- Surrounded by speculators who insist on referring to adult men as "boys"
- Utterly unable to control their own destinies, instead waiting for old men to bid on them
Furthermore, I refuse to believe there's any homo-eroticism inherent in the Combine that isn't inherent in every NFL locker room.
It's pretty indisputable that if you put a bunch of people from one gender together for an extended period of time with no members of the other gender to look at, they'll start looking at each other (You may have heard of such phenomena among prep schools, single-sex religious communities, prison gangs, inner-city gangs, fraternities, sororities, the nomes des blog over at the Powerline blog, Ohio lacrosse teams, Greek philosophers, and the Taliban).
Yet Silver seems to be suggesting if we sprayed Gay-B-Gone on the Combine, the whole league would come off free of the kind of homoeroticism that seems weird to outsiders. But it's notable that the athletes Silver interviewed seem to shrug off any sexual undertones. That may be because each prospect can remember the first old man who took notes on the "strong, shapely ass" the prospect was already developing at age 14. Once you get over that kind skull penetration, it's probably all downhill.
So, do me a favor. The next time the guy next to you at the bar comes up with the wholly original query of "Why do they have to slap each other's asses after a good play?" just calmly explain that they do it because they're athletes and athletes are by and large into that kind of thing. You may feel obliged to add, Don't worry, that doesn't mean you and I have to do it while we watch.
If you can do that, I'll get the baby down.
Column via tMMJD, image by XKCD by the talented Pete Holiday.