On Ching, The Bent Musket, and Questions of Manliness

Scott Halleran

Yesterday, SB Nation's NE Revs blog "The Bent Musket" published an article in response to Ching's post-game remarks from a week back. What has transpired since then has been more riveting and needlessly explosive than Fast-and-Furious 6.

Okay, so that's definitely hyperbole.

If you haven't read the article in question, take some time and have a gander. Its an interesting and important read in some ways, but I'm writing this response today to hash out some of the philosophical problems I have with its arguments.

Two Arguments in One Article

If you didn't read the article, here's a quick summary in my own words:

Brian Ching called out Juan Agudelo and the younger players of the Revs for theatrics. In doing so, he questioned their "manhood". This was wrong to do. Brian Ching has, himself, been accused of theatrics before. This makes him a hypocrite.

From that, you can tell there are two very big statements made by TBM. 1) Brian Ching should not, and cannot, question someone's "manhood", and 2) Brian Ching should not, and cannot, criticize someone's tendency to dive, as he himself has been criticized for this before.

Brian Ching: He of the Poor Word Choice

Let's get this out of the way: Brian Ching should not have used the term "manhood" in his criticism of Agudelo and co. It is poor word choice, and brings to mind a false standard for others to aspire to. For example, if someone doesn't fit our perception of "manliness", is that undesirable? The entire idea of "manhood" draws too many lines to judge others by, and as a leader of the league Ching could do better to be more clear with his comments.

To be fair, I believe he viewed their diving as "childish", as in "opposite of being an adult". In effect, he was telling Agudelo and the younger Revs players to grow up, not to pull a Mulan and "Be A Man". Is there much of a difference between those? I think so.

Brian Ching: Serial Floppapotamus?

I Google'd "Brian Ching Diving", and it brought up three relevant hits: the TBM article, a story on the Impact's drafting of Ching (related to Marsch's old criticism), and Zach's response to that Expansion Draft story on Dynamo Theory. In terms of media coverage, Brian Ching's diving has never been a major story until, well, yesterday.

Has Ching gone to ground too easily in search of fouls before? Sure. I don't think there's a player in this league (or any league - I'm looking at you Lebron) that is totally innocent of this. However, is Brian a serial diver, to the point where his criticism of another's theatrics is hypocritical? I don't think so, but I'm a Dynamo fan. If you disagree, provide some non-Marsch evidence in the comments section.

Bringing Me to My Main Point...

TBM's article stated that since Brian Ching is a diver who equated diving with unmanliness, then he is a hypocrite for calling out Agudelo. Yes, I understand the generalization that, if Ching was known professionally as a diver, he would have no business criticizing the Revs. That being the case, his history (or lack) of theatrics has no bearing on whether or not he can question someone's "manliness" (if, in fact, that was what he was doing).

If we are going to criticize someone for the idealization of gender stereotypes, then we have to be clear in dismissing any use of these standards. In calling Brian hypocritical for this statements, it sets a standard where some (i.e. those who don't dive) are allowed to call into question another's manliness. This is simply not the case.

In Support of The Bent Musket

TBM was absolutely right to bring up this issue. In writing my response, I don't mean to say they are misguided, incorrect, or unqualified to make the points they did. My goal here is to set the record straight on Ching's statements, and more importantly to iron our what standards we use when discussing "manliness" (note: there shouldn't be a double-standard).

I really liked Zitov's article. Well, let me qualify that - as a Dynamo fan, I was pissed off the whole time, but that's what was so great about it. His discussion of Ching was both reverent (Brian as a leader in the league) and irreverent (calling him B-rian, or something like that). In taking that tone, however, the article - for all its serious topic matter - has a sort of joking quality to it. It seems to satirize Ching's remark instead of seriously criticizing his word choice.

So is my response too serious for an article that intended to (and from the looks of this article, did) draw the ire of Dynamo fans? Maybe, but the subject matter was too important and too open to misconception to remain as is.

--

So what do you think, Dynamo fans? Do you have a problem with Ching's comments? Was he being hypocritical, or did he just choose the wrong words in his criticism of Agudelo?

Have your say in the comments.

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