Basement Boy Care, Or Hikikomori

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March 31, 2010 by David Gillaspie

“Hikikomori is a Japanese term to refer to the phenomenon of reclusive individuals who have chosen to withdraw from social life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation and confinement due to various personal and social factors in their lives.”

What’s the difference between that and George Will’s column titled The Basement Boys in the March 8, 2010 Newsweek?  From what I see, not much.

Mr. Will asks about ‘manliness.’  He quotes an academic, Gary Cross of Penn State, who says ‘note the difference between Cary Grant and Hugh Grant.’  

Do any of those names ring the bell of manliness?  They are all sissy boys, with Gary Cross from Penn State the hold-out because he comes from Penn State.  If Penn State is good enough for Cael Sanderson, then Gary Cross gets a pass.

George Will loves baseball.  He knows baseball stats inside and out.  He probably has a fantasy team.  He probably has memories of why he wasn’t a better baseball player.  It usually involves hitting the curveball, or being afraid of the ball.  I go with fear of the ball by the looks of him and his bowtie.

Who grows up and becomes a  hikikomori?  Who becomes a basement boy?  If you wrestle, be assured it’s not going to be you.  There’s plenty of scary things in the big world, but wrestling is the ultimate set-up.

Hark back to the moment you decided no one will one-up you; that no one in your practice room will walk up to you and tell you to go somewhere else.  Imagine that happening without a coach around.  Do you go somewhere else?  Or do you meet the challenge.

Now imagine going to a dual where they guy in your weight took a year off high school to start a family.  When he came back he beat the number one ranked guy in the state, a guy on his team.

You show up and your coach puts you in the line-up because the other guy knows the person he’s scheduled to face and wimps out.  You see your opponent, a tatted up guy who looks like he’s been working out at the local penitentiary.  The guy is either ‘roided up or just got out of jail where he worked out ten hours a day.

What do you do?  Fake an injury?  Hide in the bus?  You are a wrestler.  You face the guy.  The coach is in over his head and doesn’t know he should forfeit a match against a freak, but you go out.  Say you’re a sophomore on the JV team who stands in for the chickensh!t senior. 

You go out.

If you can face down the fears of wrestling, you can face down the fears of real life.  Real life is nothing like a wrestling match.  Wrestling is harder.  It’s shorter in duration, but long in intensity and everlasting meaning.

Will your wrestling experience insure you from becoming a shut in, from becoming a basement boy lacking enough maturity to make it on you own?  Will it save you from becoming a Hikikomori?  Hell, yes.  Even better, your wrestling experience will allow you to reach out to those friends suffering and drag their pathetic a$$es outside. 

Wrestling is ageless; wrestlers are ageless.  That gives you the authority to snap a front headlock on a teammate who has slipped a few gears and drag him outside.  You can make a bigger difference in someone’s life because of wrestling. 


You’ve been hurt and know how to avoid hurting someone.  You’ve been depressed after a big loss and know how to deal with it.  You’ve been challenged and know how to meet challenges.

Most of all you don’t know how to quit.  You don’t know how to give up.  Sometimes these are a fault when you take minor issues too far.  When it’s life or death for someone you care about, you know no limits.

Wrestling makes you that person, not baseball, and not George Will.  You may have a case of ‘arrested development’ or perpetual immaturity, but wrestling guarantees that your memories and actions are rooted in effort, dedication, and the will to win. 

Now prove me right.


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