‘Man up’ and the fine lines of masculinity and commitment

The final of Wimbledon and Federer’s historic eighth Wimbledon win. But somehow this was overshadowed by Cilic being ‘weak’ and ‘pathetic’. People tore Cilic apart for crying on court, as devastation hit him because he couldn’t play to his very best. And then came ‘Man up’. People calling for him to show his masculinity, all showing a complete lack of awareness of the pressures of sport by doing so. Masculinity itself is a performance, a concept that’s been made, which is limiting and restrictive. The speaker uses ‘man up’ to prove their own ‘masculinity’ and to increase their power, to make others seem weak.

Rubbish. It’s strong to show emotions, strong to show how much you really care about something. As said in my last post, Cilic crying showed determination and passion. This is not someone buckling under pressure. This is a Grand Slam champion who is strong enough to show how much it means to him.

And how should someone act on court? More controversy as Tomic admitted in his post match interview that he was bored and couldn’t find the motivation. Soon after he lost his sponsorship from Head, was fined 15000 dollars and received a number of criticisms. But here is a prime example of the desire for the perfect player on court. Cilic cares too much and Tomic not enough.

Sure, I don’t completely agree with all Tomic has said. Asking for medical time out for a fake injury. Admitting that over all the years he’s only ever given 50%. Brave and honest, yes, but questionable when you realise how lucky and privileged he’s been with his 4m career earnings. But the question here is, if Cilic is showing too much emotion and Tomic is not caring enough, what is the right level? This is their job, they can’t be criticised for every move they make, they can’t be expected to care every day. Don’t complain when someone cares too much and then when someone doesn’t care enough.

Likewise the strong criticism of women’s masculinity shows the desire for perfection from viewers, which once again is absurd. Social media throws criticism at Serena for being too masculine, but also not masculine enough to beat a male player. The criticism about her physique is hard to be separated from issues of race, but it is not only Serena who has received criticism over her body. John Inverdale stated that Marion Bartoli was ‘never going to be a looker’ and Sam Stosur was criticised for playing ‘like a man’.  These comments make the perfect player impossible, when perfect is being feminine, but strong enough to achieve the best in the sport.

The failure to respect these players is ridiculous. Women should not have to pick between being strong and being feminine,they should simply be respected as players, without the need to find the perfect in between. And why is it not okay to be both? Players should not have to be afraid of showing emotions on court while also feeling pressured to always show passion and love for their sport.



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