»home   »1992       »printable

The Truth, Mainly - 11/09/1992

Manly Virtues, Freudian fears, high testosterone and low IQ

I've been brooding darkly over it for several months now, and I think I can finally talk about the motivational ploy Jackie Sherrill used to help his Mississippi State team beat Texas back in September.

In case you missed it—or repressed it—he had a bull castrated right there on the practice field in front of his players.

I'm 58 years old and my raging hormones have, alas, subsided to a occasional gurgle, but just reading the newspaper about Sherrill and the bull caused my legs to cross involuntarily.

"Your legs just crossed involuntarily," my wife observed, looking up from her crossword puzzle. "You must have read something that threatened your manhood."

"Oh yeah?" I shot right back. "I'm just reading about a football game."

"Mississippi State and Texas?" she asked. "Jackie Sherrill and the castrated bull?"

The word caused Ned, the one-eyed Beagle with the headstrong personality and the mismatched jaws, to whimper in his sleep. We had him fixed four years ago, but he still has dreams.

"You're male," she said. "Why on earth would castrating a bull help win a football game?"

"I don't want to talk about it right now," I said, still trying to uncross my legs. "I want to brood darkly."

But I think I'm ready now. What finally helped me figure it out was reading about another football coach, Bill McCartney, and how he helped pass the Colorado for Family Values amendment last week. That's the one that outlaws city ordinances prohibiting discrimination against gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. As an "arch-conservative, Bible-thumping gridiron guru" (according to the Estes Park Trail-Gazette), Coach McCartney thinks gays, lesbians, and bisexuals should be discriminated against because the Old Testament says they're "abominations."

"Here's the answer to your question about Sherrill and the bull," I tell my wife. But she doesn't get it so I assume my professorial voice and talk louder.

"Throughout the history of Western Civilization," I say as her eyes glaze over, "the unviolated scrotum, all intact and functioning conventionally, has been seen as the seat of manly virtue."

She yawns. Encouraged, I continue.

"Chaucer plays on that association when he makes the Pardoner a eunoch and hence corrupt. Hemingway's Jake Barnes is a figure of tragic impotence because of the debilitating wound to his private parts."

"It figures with Hemingway," she says, her eyes focusing again, "but what's the connection between a warm, funny writer like Chaucer and a homophobic boob like McCartney?"

"They both link virtue to the conventional function of the glands," I explain. "Allegorically in Chaucer's case, literally in McCartney's. And Sherrill was merely reinforcing his team's manly virtue with the cautionary example of the bull who lost his manhood right in front of them. It's the same virtue my drill sergeant invited us to celebrate when he told us to sound off like we had a pair. It's elemental. It's primal."

The Truth, Mainly


"It's sick," my wife says. "Sounds like terrorism to me. Sounds like he was just playing on those boys' Freudian fears. Sounds like you're making all this up to disguise the old high testosterone-low IQ syndrome."

"What's that?" I ask.

"Research shows that IQ goes down when testosterone goes up," she says, "and testosterone is highest in the fall. It's fall, so you don't remember."

"So?" I say, my mind a steel trap snapping shut.

"So it sounds to me like Sherrill and McCartney and Hemingway and your drill sergeant—all of you—worry about keeping your testosterone up because you like your IQ down. If it went up, you'd stop getting such a kick out of talking tough and bashing into people and discriminating against unconventional glands."

"Oh yeah?" I shoot right back. But I worry when I say it because my testosterone has receded enough that I recognize she might be onto something. And the future prospect of even lower testosterone and higher IQ turns my worry to despair. So I do what I always do when I'm in despair. I go to Holy Writ for consolation.

Usually the Book of Revelation will do it, but this time the breeze riffles the pages open to the Old Testament, to Deuteronomy, and maybe I only imagine it but there seems to be a tiny shaft of sunlight landing on the first verse of the 23rd chapter. I read it aloud.

"He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord."

Ned yips. My legs cross involuntarily. My wife rolls her eyes and says "Good grief." But I feel vindicated and full of Old Testament manly virtue. I pick up the phone to make a conference call to Jackie Sherrill and Bill McCartney.


Satterfield is a college professor and writes as a means of discovery.


©Copyright Lincoln Journal Star

used with permission