Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Manliest Cities in America

A group called Sterling's Best Places recently came out with a study to determine America's "Manliest" cities. Taking the top 50 metropolitan areas in the nation, Sterling's used 5 basic criteria to determine a city's "manliness" ranking.

1) SPORTS. Including professional and collegiate events, NASCAR and NHRA events in close proximity, monster truck events, etc.
2) LIFESTYLE. This includes the registration of U.S. made cars, full-sized pickups, available locales for hunting and fishing, sports viewing areas and frequency, etc.
3) RETAILERS. Stores such as steakhouses, home improvement stores like Lowes and Home Depot, and sports bars enhance a city's manliness.
4) MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTIONS. The amount of subscriptions to reads like Men's Health, Sports Illustrated, Playboy, Maxim, etc.
5) SALTY SNACK SALES. This is a rather irrelevant category, likely included if for no other reason than the fact that Combos snacks were a big sponsor for the study.

Sterling's also used 3 main criteria to determine possible manly detractors: categories that would trend more towards women. Those 3 areas were:

1) CARS. The higher the volume of minivans and foreign cars registered, the less manly the city.

2) RETAILERS. Stores that deal in home furnishings (Pier One, Pottery Barn), cafes, and sushi restraunts took away from a city's manliness.

3) MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTIONS. Cities with a higher volume of subscriptions to magazines like Oprah, Martha Stewart Living, Real Simple, Vogue, etc. were obviously considered less manly.

So based on these findings, the 5 LEAST manly cities are

1) San Francisco
2) Oakland
3) Boston
4) Seattle
5) Denver

The 5 MOST manly cities are

1) Nashville, TN
2) Charlotte, NC
3) Oklahoma City
4) Cincinnati
5) Denver (somehow Denver makes both lists' #5 spot)

The funny thing about those lists are that the areas I'd rather live in show up more on the "less manly" list. If you look at all the cities, in the manly list, Indianapolis is ranked #9. #9 on the "less manly" list is San Diego. Seriously, how many of you would prefer to live in Indy instead of San Diego, which could have the best weather of any city in the entire world? But, I digress. (For full breakout list of the cities, go here http://www.bestplaces.net/docs/studies/manliest_cities.aspx)

The reason the study struck me was it's criteria. Listening to Colin Cowherd's show on ESPN Radio Thursday morning, he discussed what he thought makes a man and what doesn't make a man. He pointed out that having multiple tattoos doesn't make you a man. Having a gun rack doesn't make you a man. Driving a truck ten times bigger than you can afford doesn't grant you manhood.

So what does? Is it what this study suggests? Is it living within 45 minutes of a NASCAR track? Is it owning subscriptions to Maxim, Playboy, and Hustler? Is it eating a 70 ounce steak and downing a 13 pack of beer?

Cowherd gave 3 basic criteria for men. Tell me if this isn't brilliant.

FIRST, men are risk-takers. They gamble. There's a reason you don't have a lot of women dropping 50 bucks on a NCAA tournament pool, or hear many women dealing in fantasy sports. That's why so many Wall Street stock brokers are men: it's competitive. It's risk-taking. That's why, according to Cowherd, cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh don't make the cut. Nearly 75% of those cities' residents live within an hour of where they grew up. In other words, they never took a risk and moved away for college or for a job. Many get out of high school and go work at the family business the rest of their lives. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's not a risk. Manly men are the ones who move to the opposite coast to follow a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Manly men date women they know are out of their league. It's all about risk.

SECONDLY, men are leaders. Most of us just have that programmed in our DNA to take the lead. So cities that have a large collection of fraternal organizations and clubs don't qualify under the manly list because they deal with groups, not individuals. Manly men don't need other people to get by.

THIRDLY, and most importantly, manly men are responsible. They take care of their families. Travis Henry, the NFL player who has fathered 9 children by 9 different women, claimed last week he doesn't have money to pay child support because he spent it all during his playing years. He said "I have a big heart. I help people. I guess I never got into that saving thing." See, first of all, if you have 9 children, they become your top priority. Not your teammates, not your homies back from high school, not the one night stands on road trips, but your children. Manly men take responsibility for their family. If it requires the extra job working weekends or overnights, then so be it. If it requires leaving a business trip early to be home for your son's first t-ball game, you do it. That's what manly men do. They treat their wives with love and respect, because they made a choice to do so. They take care of their children and raise them right because they made that decision to do so.

I ask myself often where do I place myself in the "manly" question. I don't care much for hunting or fishing. I don't do much construction work around the house. I do love sports, and have a subscription to Sports Illustrated, and eat plenty of salty snacks. Does that make me a man? Maybe...maybe not. Really, who cares? I'll do the manliest thing I can do, and that's take care of my family.

But I'll eat some extra chips, just for good measure.