Physical contact test of alpha male dominance

By Alex Pearl ’10
The Roundup

Photo by Ben Jackson ’11 Students making their way through the lunch time crowd get slowed down between the gym and Keating Hall.
Photo by Ben Jackson ’11 Students making their way through the lunch time crowd get slowed down between the gym and Keating Hall.

Over the course of several weeks recently, I undertook a new kind of journalistic safari: I took the liberty of recording every wrestling match in the Info Commons, every grappling match at the choke point between the gym and Keating Hall and every boxing match in classrooms.

A bit of a disclaimer: I am most certainly not a stalker.

It bears mentioning, however, that the purpose of this archiving spree was not to record the many different ways in which Brophy students care to physically interact with each other. To be honest, I didn’t begin my strange high school safari with the sentiment that I’d be hard-pressed to find subject material (although I ended up being correct).

On the contrary, I wanted to observe the cause rather than effect.

Over my allotted time period, I bore witness to students sandwiching freshmen in the hallways, performing flying tackles on unsuspecting friends (and perhaps enemies), and countless shoving and punching matches.

My thoughts: What the heck?

I mean, we look a little silly to be sold as “Men for Others” when at the same time we’re suplexing each other in a walkway.

I have two primary theories as to why this happens: The first is that boys, in our most primal form, resort to proving-grounds style behavior, where we battle for dominance in a maelstrom of growling, growing beards and bending things.

Brophy’s focus on physical activities – especially on football and wrestling – prompts these attitudes. And where else to prove who’s the manliest than in an all-boys school, eh?

This ties into the second theory, which is that due to the absence of girls, we boys find ourselves with no standards by which they hold us.

With the absence of females to judge and appraise the males, we not only resort to crude behavior but also revert to our aforementioned primal state – that is, grunting, shameless boys that like to destroy things.

Teenage guys in general are prone to this behavior even in the presence of girls (although more for the purpose of humor), but it seems that female vacancy here at Brophy has magnified it.

If theory one is correct, and the pugilistic behavior is caused by a mixture of inspiration from the presence of so many males in one place and a sort of “alpha-male” mindset, then I have to say that it’s my faith in my fellow men that keeps me praying that I’m wrong, as I’d really hoped that we’d moved on both as young men and generally as a species.

If theory two is correct, then I suppose that there’s not much to be done about it. There seem to be just as many advantages to having girls in school among the boys as there are to exclude them (although I personally think that it’s a silly notion to segregate genders from each other, as Brophy and Xavier do). Because of this I wouldn’t expect a change from Brophy any time soon.

Far be it from me, though, to keep from saying that having to sidestep the wrestling matches in the Info Commons or at the choke-point between the gym and Keating Hall isn’t incredibly irritating.

I guess I’m just more mild-mannered than most folks.

Even if it’s both of these factors and half a billion others, I do believe that it all boils down to one simple thing that’s never going to change, given time or location: Boys will most definitely be boys.