Cruelty in song has always been part of the soccer fan, stadium tradition. Before shaved male heads were commonplace and acceptable as an alternative for premature baldness, Baldy! Baldy! was a favorite arrow slung by fan antagonists at players tackled by follicle desertion. Many would have swapped their affliction for deafness at that moment. Attempts to sweep over the dome with a shed of strands would come unstuck when a blast of wind erected the dysfunctional hair from horizontal to vertical. More derision followed. After the game, at home, adolescent boys checked their hairlines and looked at dad and grandpa, some fearing the worst. Being young and bald was a ticket to sitting alone in dark corners of pubs.
Fortunately, shaved became cool, sometimes sexy, and no one notices the bald much these days -- unless you are balding yourself. So when Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (pictured) tweeted to his followers that some of his hard earned cash was being spent on an expensive treatment for hair loss, mockery prevailed in some quarters. Cruel comments suggested he needed a head transplant instead.
Rooney, age 25, was motivated to act when fellow teammate, pretty boy Michael Owen, remarked on his baldness. Add to this, Rooney's acumen as a careerist with a brand to nurture. Soccer video game designers would soon have to accept his balding fast track, and be forced to draw him with a patchy dome. Hair looks better. Hair sells. Just ask Beckham.
A survey of balding men by Spanish researchers found that "62% agreed that hair loss could affect self-esteem." 43% of men said it affected their attractiveness. Feelings of depression were recognized by 21%. When those who had undergone hair replacement treatments were asked how their self-esteem had been affected, 59% said positively. Add Wayne Rooney to the list.
This may explain why his form this season has shot up as fast as his new fuzz. The vigor of youth has re-planted itself in his confidence -- scoring hat-tricks, scoring for England, a glabrous confidence on his face. Fellow pros wrestling with defoliating scalps should take note -- a new forest produces the oxygen your self-confidence needs. Indeed, statisticians employed to predict a player's success on the field may study the state of his hair via baldness patterns -- call it Hairyball. It could be a revolutionary breakthrough in sports science, and could lead to a major motion picture.
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