The Passionate Pumas

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Los Pumas, Argentina’s national rugby team, exceeded all expectations this year by taking the bronze in the 2007 World Cup. Los Pumas is a team that isn’t even technically professional and had no experience playing the top tier teams until recently. They played with heart and skill, and in Argentina they’ve become cult heroes – men who’ve made the nation proud through their hard-won victories.

The members have received a lot of attention with ads and press running full throttle during prime time. Ads focused on their muscular stature or on the fact that one Puma performs opera when he’s not body-slamming for the ball. Personally, I found the Pumas fascinating because of the members’ tendency – and ability – to weep at the start of each game.

pumas_himno_uar.JPGRugby players are larger than your average Argentine – on the screen they are burly masses of blue and white. You can hear them smack against the opposing team – audible hits. And, these are formidable athletes who start each game in a line up, arm in arm, bawling. The camera slides along the line up and at close range you see each of the players, faces frowning with emotion, tears streaming down their cheeks.

argentina.jpgThese men are obviously comfortable expressing their feelings – broadcasting them, in fact, to the audience at home. I’m reminded of what I’ve seen flipping by the daytime soaps – men crying over lost love – and what’s on talk shows and reality shows where men recount a difficult situation and let the tears flow. Women on the screen pay attention and sympathize – it’s a tender moment often followed by an embrace. One can only conclude that a) crying is an acceptable and manly act, b) women like a man who cries, and c) men who cry are often comforted by women who care.

I’m interested in checking out footage on the coming elections. Will the politicians cry before the results come in from the polls? Will they emote during debates to show they care? Will there be pity votes?

1152096732.jpgOf course, there’s an awful lot of singing that goes on at sporting events here as well, and that seems to be stadium specific. Maybe men mostly sing and cry at athletic events and hold back in more staid settings? After watching the games, it’s easy to see why a Puma performs opera on the side. Argentine rugby a terribly passionate sport.


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