Two Major League Baseball players are flipping outdated concepts of masculinity upside down, in a time when the president is touting archaic ideas of masculinity, like suggesting he would have run into Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school unarmed to save the day, and his obsession with military parades.
Friends Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves were captured in a video that’s going viral on Instagram. In it, Acuna can be seen with his head on Albies’s chest while Albies rubs his friend’s head. MLB announcers can be heard joking about the moment, laughing about the “head massage” Albies is giving and how Acuna is “taking a nap.”
There are conflicting reports about what prompted the moment. According to some sources, Acuna’s mother died during the game and Albies was just comforting his friend. But a spokesperson for the Braves tells Yahoo Lifestyle that’s just a rumor. Whatever the reason for the display of affection, the two are clearly close.
Some people made fun of the men sharing a tender moment but many more praised the baseball players on Twitter for their actions, and pointed out that there is nothing wrong with two men showing each other affection.
It’s unlikely that Albies and Acuna were trying to make a big statement, but their actions can speak volumes to young men, licensed clinical psychologist John Mayer, PhD, author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “It is critical in today’s society for young men to see adult men [show] emotions,” he says. When adult men show emotions, it teaches boys that it’s OK and even encouraged that they do the same thing, Mayer says.
The fact that this happened in a sports environment, which tends to subscribe to more traditional ideas of masculinity, is especially poignant, Mayer says. Ultimately, children and young men typically model their behavior after adults and role models in their lives — and that often includes sports stars — so seeing two men who they respect show emotion and affection to each other can go a long way toward normalizing that behavior, he says.