For this week's Two Man Game column (representing ESPN's TrueHoop Network), I got philosophical on the Mavs' decision to not shave until they are back to .500, meaning they have an equal win-to-loss ratio. I'll admit my sports writing doesn't always look like sports writing. I'm working on it. But hopefully, I can offer the readers something unique to balance out their diet of stats and play-by-play analysis.
I was particularly proud of these three paragraphs:
What does the beard actually accomplish? Charles Darwin suggested that the beard might have served an evolutionary role in attracting suitable mates, as an indicator of virile masculinity. In many religions, the beard symbolizes an act of holy submission. From the Bible, Leviticus 21:5 states that “They shall not make any baldness on their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts in their flesh.” Throughout history, the beard has come to represent crazy, dedicated people who were too busy to shave. (Abraham Lincoln was the first bearded president.) In modern times, beards can symbolize that you are quirky and hip, or that you’re homeless.
For the Mavs, is this beard a daring statement of manliness over their emasculated foes? Is it an act of contrition before the basketball gods? Is it a statement that there’s work to be done? Does it just look cool? Or is it based on the idea that if the Mavs keep playing poorly they may be kicked to the curb?
In the end, anyone who loves sports, be it fan or athlete, is prone to a little superstition. They understand the fickle nature of a ball dancing along the rim with seconds remaining. They have felt the injustice of a call that could’ve gone either way. They have seen their best player on the ground, suffering from a torn ligament that would’ve been fine had he not landed just so. Beards, rally caps, lucky socks… if it works, it’s not weird.