Man Time: In Defense of Sweat

Even Presidents sweat, some more than others

July is a dead zone for professional sports. Even the quadrennial World Cup is running out of steam, with only the third-place game and the championship game left. So what’s a sportsaholic to do in the dog days of summer? You go play outside, dammit. You put down the XBox or the PS4, you grab an actual ball or frisbee or whatever, and you go run around outside for a little while.

“But what about sweat, Dan? If I go play outside, I’m going to get sweaty!” Yes, you are, that is how your body tells you that it’s still alive and capable of feeling feelings. It is the summer, you are supposed to sweat. Sweat is something warm-blooded mammals do sometimes, and you shouldn’t be afraid of it.

A couple quick disclaimers:

  • Sweating means that water is literally coming out of your skin, and you need water inside your skin for your body to not shut down. Know how you can replenish the water you’ve lost? By drinking water. Simply open your mouth, put water inside your mouth, and then allow that water to travel down your digestive tract. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
  • If you are sweating so much that you start to get tunnel vision or hear the voices of dead relatives, consider taking a short break. Unless you’re trying to see what a heat stroke feels like, and who are we to tell you not to get a heat stroke? This is America, is it not?

Okay! Now that we have told you not to literally kill yourselves in the heat, we will proceed with telling you to figuratively kill yourself in the heat.

There are basically three ways to get your sweat on: competitively, non-competitively, and solo. This is where runners will object that solo IS competitive, that nothing feels better than recording a personal best time. But runners are masochists, and we will pay them no heed. (We actually enjoy running, shut up please). That leaves us with either competitive sports or non-competitive sports. We’ll start with the non-competitive sports, because those are usually the ones that allow you to drink alcohol.

Best Non-Competitive Summertime Sports

Most of these are just ways to drink outside without feeling like an alcoholic. We are classifying them as non-competitive because even though you can keep score, you are a total dick if you take these games seriously. For a more comprehensive but less comprehensible ranking of various summertime lawn games, please see this list, published inexplicably in the third week of November 2013.

  • Cornhole/Bags/Tailgate/Beanbag toss: The only real downside to this game is its stupid names. No time limits, no shot clocks, and requiring only a minimal exertion of physical effort. Feel the sun beating down on your skin and forcing sweat from your pores. This is our favorite variant of the tossing-things-underhand-at-other-things games, mostly because the potential for injury from an errant toss is so low (I’m looking at you, horseshoes).
  • Croquet: Golf for the Alice in Wonderland set, croquet usually requires two hands but moves at such a slow pace that you can set down your drink in the grass, then pick it up again after you do the croquet thingy. The croquet mallet has the added benefit of giving you something to jauntily lean on. You will feel rich when you do this.
  • Whiffle ball: You actually sort of have to run around in this one, but that is okay because sweat is okay! Bonus points: WAY easier than baseball.
  • Just tossing around a frisbee: No, we’re not talking about playing Ultimate Frisbee, in which wiry white guys scream at you to LAY OUT FOR THAT. We’re talking about flinging a frisbee back and forth, preferably on a beach somewhere in New England, just before you go get a lobster roll made with not too much mayonnaise.
  • Lawn darts: The most American lawn game and the most dangerous. These things were once banned because they literally killed children. You take an instrument of death in your hands and loft it high into the air, for shits and giggles. This is how Curtis LeMay must have felt when he played lawn games.

Best Competitive Summertime Sports

Your mileage may vary extensively on this one, depending on which sport you were best at as a kid and/or which childhood sporting experience has left you with the deepest psychological scars. The true difficulty in playing competitive summertime sports outside of a league is finding a group of people who share both your skill level and intensity. All of these sports are difficult to play with an alcoholic beverage in hand, and all of them can be ruined by that one guy who just takes himself way, way too seriously.

  • Basketball: The sweatiest of sweaty summertime sports, basketball will force your sweaty body up against another person’s sweaty body again and again, as you both try to score enough points to win before you’re too tired to play anymore. Do NOT play full-court in the summertime, unless you are a masochist, and if you’re a masochist, shouldn’t you be running right now?
  • Soccer: Basically just constant running, because without a ref, there’s no real incentive to dive. Try to play goalie, so that you can stash a beer next to a goalpost and sneak a drink when play is at the other end of the field.
  • Baseball: Have you ever actually tried to play a pickup game of baseball? It is impossible. You need at least 18 people, and no sane person with fully descended testicles would ever play catcher without a cup and a face mask. Try slow-pitch softball instead, a sport which has been successfully hybridized with alcohol. Better yet, dizzy bat, because if you were any good at actual baseball, you’d be playing in an organized league.
  • Cricket: Baseball’s snotty English cousin. No True American plays cricket, but the sport gets high marks for including a booze lunch break. Do you know why cricket pitchers (“bowlers,” but it doesn’t look like bowling to me) throw the way they do? Because it’s illegal to bend their elbows like baseball pitchers do. Try throwing a ball hard without bending your elbow. It is stupid-hard. Go home, cricket, you’re drunk.
  • Volleyball: The king of summertime sports, and the best possible ratio of sweatiness to sexiness. The other day, our girlfriend admitted that she had never seen the volleyball scene in Top Gun, and we were like, “WHAT!? ARE YOU EVEN AMERICAN?” and then she reminded us that her mom is a Quaker and Top Gun is basically one big commercial for Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy. Still, volleyball allows maximum flexibility in terms of venue, number of players, competitiveness, and sweaty sexxxxiness. Go ahead and check your watch again, Maverick, we won’t mind.

Have we left out your favorite way to get sweaty in the summer? Scream at us about it in the comments!

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  • savethispatient

    Now, now. We surely all know that horses sweat, men perspire and women glow.

  • aureolaborealis

    I have been known to break a bit of a sweat while corn holing.

  • Kynthia Alice

    I rely on sex to get my sweat on. If your not sweating you aren’t putting in the effort.

  • mtn_philosoph

    During training rides back in my bicycle road racing days we placed a high priority on “getting the sweat flowing” because that was when the the real workouts began. A cyclist couldn’t expect to gain much training effect unless he or she was working hard enough to generate a good sweat. Sweating was regarded as a positive thing, a sign that teammates were doing their part.

  • mtn_philosoph

    The fact that we are able to cool our bodies by perspiring via sweat glands distributed all over our skin is a key reason why humans are one of the the champions among all terrestrial species at long distance endurance running. Our only real rival in this category is the horse, which also perspires through its skin. The horse, being much larger, easily beats a human runner in speed, but in terms of distance that can be covered humans and equines are very evenly matched.