Sunday, February 15, 2015

Review: Men With Balls by Drew Magary

I am probably going to be accused of having no sense of humor. Or being a prude. Or not getting it. Or even of not being a guy. But that's okay (and no, I am not a guy). I know that I giggled like a teenaged boy sunk deep in hormone stew over the cover of the book and that I chose, tongue-in-cheek, to read it because of the Super Bowl ball deflating brouhaha. I actually had high hopes that this "Professional Athlete's Handbook" would fulfill its promise of hilarity and entertainment. I had no illusions that it would be anything other than low brow humor but honestly, that is the sort of humor that generally tickles my immature funny bone. Unfortunately, Drew Magary's Men With Balls lost all vestiges of humor within the first few pages. It plain old wasn't funny and that was a terrible disappointment.

The book is presented as a "how-to" manual for pro athletes while in actual fact attempting to be a humorous indictment of the excesses of sports and the people who are paid to play those sports. Addressing the reader as the putative professional athlete, the book has chapters covering playing as a job, coaches and management, the media, women, fame and fans, how to handle scandals, money, and more. Magary clearly has a knowledge of how the sports world works but while he riffs sarcastically on all of these topics, he offers nothing special or new. Instead, he perpetuates every negative stereotype out there about professional athletes and manages to be incredibly demeaning to women, gays, and the mentally disabled. While some people will laugh at his commentary, I just can't find much to giggle about in obnoxious and offensive sexism or homophobia. And as if that wasn't enough, the format of the book, with occasional line drawings, asides, and sidebars, was distracting. There are completely fake inset comments from others (athletes, coaches, media figures, etc.) that were annoying and tedious to read through.  Over all, the whole thing was not a pleasant reading experience. Satire well done is fantastic and professional athletes are ripe for satire for certain. This book is not only not satire done well, this is not satire at all; it is just juvenile, repetitious, and unfunny.

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