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Man law: Is there one against watching Dancing with the Stars?

Edyta & Joey, Cheryl & Emmitt, Karina & Mario: What's not to like?

Put on your high-sneeled sneakers and join me in watching ABC's Dancing with the Stars semi-finals Tuesday night.

No? All right, be that way. Lots of male TV critics, and probably every sports talk radio show host in the land, are firmly united on one front. They don't, won't and won't ever watch Dancing with the Stars despite the presence of a burly NFL legend and an array of lithe, skin-baring women. It's a Man Law, pure and simple.

As a Dallas-based writer, I've got a built-in local angle in Emmitt Smith, the former Cowboy who's ventured all the way to the show's crunch time with partner Cheryl Burke. But here's the thing. I also willingly watched the first two editions of Dancing, and not under duress either. Maybe it's a hangover from my polka-dancing past in Racine, Wis., where you could bounce around like a pogo stick at a constant carousel of wedding receptions. That and early indelible exposure to The Lawrence Welk Show have left their marks.

Dancing's also a throwback to TV's daring, doing formative years. It's a legitimately live production, meaning that someone's going to fall down and go boom someday with no chance to save face in an editing room. Furthermore, this is a bonafide athletic competition, requiring stamina, coordination and no small amount of courage. It's not easy to risk making an ass of one's self. The agony of the feet indeed.

Most men, of course, don't like to dance. They 'd sooner enter a jalapeno-eating competition. And on Dancing, contestants do risk being called "lovely jubbly," which judge Len Goodman laid on Emmitt. It happens.

In the end, you've really got to credit the guy with venturing way outside his comfort zone, as did fellow future Hall of Famer Jerry Rice on the last edition. Now Emmitt is up against the Gumby-like Mario Lopez and painfully earnest Joey Lawrence, whose statuesque partner, Edyta Sliwinska, somehow stays within the confines of prime-time's most risque costumes. Edyta's jaw-dropping Halloween outfit made her look like a cross between Xena: Warrior Princess and Cher in her prime.

On a recent episode, Emmitt rebutted those who think it might not be manly to rumba, samba or mambo in a glimmering outfit before a judge who has called him both "Twinkletoes" and "Sir Shimmy."

"If someone came up to me and said, 'Real men don't dance,' I'm going to say to them, 'Real men try to do things that they think they cannot do,' " he said. "That's the difference between another man and a real man."

This member of the male species figures he's a better man than many of us. So floor it, Emmitt. Dance the night away. You can't come out smelling like a rose if you're a wallflower.