The sight of Bubba Watson crying and hugging his mom on the green at Augusta National right after winning the Masters on Sunday night made me want to cry and go hug my mom. There, I said it.
But as everyone in the frequently embarrassed brotherhood of man criers knows, there will always be those who try to sissy-fy the public display of male emotion. Cry for any reason other than the birth of a child or the death of your war buddy in combat and you’ll be explicitly told to shut the lid on your emotions.
“Kudos to Bubba for winning, but what is with all the blubbering? My gosh, he was going to hyperventilate from all that crying on the 10th green. Please, save it for the birth of your child, or its adoption day, or when you are rescued after five days lost in a raft at sea. But that level of crying gets cloying after only winning a golf tournament!” wrote Herald-Tribune blogger Bart Pfankuch the Monday after Gerry (Bubba) Watson, 33, won his first major.
Cloying? Did you see him hugging his mother? What are you, a robot?
Another dry-eyed detractor took to his blog to chastise Bubba: “Apparently, Bubba thinks the fact that he’s a ‘daddy’ means that he shouldn’t hold it together long enough to get inside, away from the crowds and the cameras before breaking down,” wrote a blogger named Jayman. (Note to Jayman: if you’re a grown man who still goes by what you think is a cool nickname – “What’s up, Jayman?” – you have no business criticizing what other men do.)
Apparently, it’s okay for men to cry so long as they do it behind closed doors. Never mind that Bubba and his wife, Angie, had just adopted a baby boy two weeks ago after four years of trying, or that the Masters is probably the most stressful four days of golf for any professional, let alone one who has never won a major and who lost a playoff at the PGA Championship two years ago.
And never mind that the elation of such a win is mixed with the pain of not being able to share it with your father, who introduced you to the game when you were a kid, a father who died two years ago and whose absence you can’t help but be reminded of when your mom is there to hug you after you sank the putt that puts you in a field of just 46 other legends of your sport.
Pile up all that stress and then bring it to a moment of victory and you know what you get? That’s right, an athlete crying. Even some fans, too.