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Rules for Watching Sports for the Non-Sports Fan

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As all true sports fans know, the football season really ended last Sunday with the conference championship games. For die-hard football fans,  Super Super Bowl Sunday takes the cake as the worst football viewing experience of the year. Instead of 12 hours of  excitement and debauchery with your buddies, most years you find yourself at a Super Bowl Party surrounded by wives, girlfriends, casual fans, and the most annoying lot of people; those just there to watch the commercials. Inevitably you get sucked into mind-numbing conversations with people whose sports knowledge rivals your dog; except your dog knows to stay quiet. They draw you in with opinions so absurd that, at first, you can’t tell if they are serious or have had one too many Natty Lights.

Inane comments whizz past your head faster than the credit card scanners at Target. Here is a Mad Lib that you can take with you to your Super Bowl Party:

“I think that (Proper sports name) should (dumbest thing you’ve ever heard) because (nonsensical rationale) and (inconsequential reference).

An example: “I think (Bill Belichick) should (bench Tom Brady) because (I don’t like his haircut) and (Giselle has ugly toe-nail polish).”   …Need another example?

Here you go: “I think (Peyton Manning) should (run the ball more) because (one time he got a first down by running) and (Michael Vick runs the ball a lot).”

These are just two examples of what you have to look forward to at your Super Bowl Party. This leads to the point, if you find yourself somewhere where the main purpose for your attendance is to watch a sporting event, either pay attention, or go somewhere where you don’t annoy the people who actually are paying attention. The worst offense to this rule that I’ve witnessed happened at the greatest baseball game that I’ve attended in-person.

The date: October 5th, 2007, the stage: Cleveland’s Jacob’s Field. The Cleveland Indians were taking on the New York Yankees in game 2 of the ALDS. The game pitted Cleveland’s Fausto Carmona against the Yankee’s Andy Pettitte. I attended the game with my ace-in-the-hole sporting event attendee, Bob, so we both bore witness to the following events. The game was an instant classic. The medley of human emotions manifesting with each pitch was almost incomprehensible. It was grueling, physically draining, awe-inspiring, unbelievable, and astonishingly rewarding. The Indians were getting shut out and headed into the 8th inning down 1-0. They had no answer to Andy Pettitte that night, but inexplicably the Yankees turned to rookie Joba Chamberlain. Chamberlain had been lights out to that point in his career, but tonight was different. What happened next is the stuff of legend. Thousands of midges swarmed Joba at that particular moment in time. He was visibly rattled and lost control of his pitches; giving up the tying run and blowing the save. Over the next 3 innings, the pure joy that is playoff baseball showed its beautiful face. Every pitch was nerve-wracking, every call was questioned, both teams fighting to put themselves one step closer to their ultimate goal. The tension was mounting; the levy was building, until finally breaking with a single crack. The sound of the ball hitting Travis Hafner’s bat in the bottom of the 11th to score the winning run is permanently ingrained in my memory like so many other fond experiences. Also burned into my memory from that night is what transpired over the first 7 innings.

Bob and I were in the bleachers that Friday night. Behind us sat 4 women in their mid-to-late thirties. It was painfully obvious after 3 minutes that none of these women had ever actually watched a baseball game and tonight was not going to be a night they would start. Bob and I were bombarded like punches to the liver with two and a half hours of non-stop conversation about each of their many pregnancies. C-section scars were shown, labor times compared, afterbirth and placenta stories discussed. At the end of the two hours I felt like I had the knowledge and ability to personally breast feed a small village. Evidently the tickets belonged to the father of one of the fertile beasts. The father had to attend a wedding that night and thus missed the game. The women would get calls every half hour or so from someone asking the score of the game and the situation, to which the most common responses were: “I don’t know, do they show that somewhere?” or “How can I find that? Do people just know?” Thankfully these ballpark pariahs left after the 7th inning which is when the game truly started. Nothing could’ve ruined that night for me, but these emperors of estrogen certainly gave it their all in trying.

I realize that sports aren’t for everybody. Some people just aren’t competitive and don’t care about them. I will never actually understand their viewpoint, but with them in mind, I have formulated some simple rules for non-sports fans to watch and avoid physical injury or things being thrown at them. Let’s face it, there are some people who are selfish and feel some sense of entitlement that won’t follow these rules… but chances are you probably won’t be reading this article anyway. Without further ado:

1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions: If you actually show an interest in learning about the game or want to understand why things happen the way that they do, ask a question. Sports fans like to teach others about the game given that there is a genuine interest, and not a question like: “Why are they so mean to each other?”

2. Don’t pretend you know what you’re talking about if you don’t: There is nothing more obvious and annoying than someone trying to fake their way through a conversation, especially about sports. Say you’re an accountant, and someone comes up and tells you how to balance your checkbook, same situation.

3. Don’t argue fact: If someone knowledgeable in the room says Aaron Rodgers is a better quarterback than Alex Smith, don’t argue about it. Nobody cares that your neighbor’s second cousin is Alex Smith’s 3rd grade teacher so you watched him throw 2 touchdowns in college once. One of the great things about sports is the countless debates, but you can’t debate fact.

4. If you are going to talk about things no one cares about, do it elsewhere: We have all seen this take place. People are situated around the room, and all of a sudden, usually during important times in the game, side conversations take place about work, sales at the mall, or that their kid finally took a dump in the toilet. Then before long their daughter’s toilet schedule is being loudly discussed across the room. If you want to girl-talk, head to another room, you won’t miss the commercials, trust me, you will see the good ones 48,000 times over the next month, which leads to the next rule.

5. During the game is not a permissible time to talk about major life decisions: If you decide that you want to have a baby or remodel the bathroom, that’s fantastic, just save it until after the game is over. Any attempt to start a deep conversation on 3rd and 7 in the 4th quarter, deserves any rudeness that received in return.

6. Understand the fragility of the situation: If you don’t care about sports you don’t understand the pain that accompanies the ending of the football season; even worse if your team loses in the Super Bowl. Regardless, it will be 7 months until another football season begins. This is a depressing realization that can cause tumultuous mood swings, so tread lightly with regards to nagging. For women, think of it as the season finale of The Bachelor, times 8,000.

6. Be cordial and respectful: If you don’t like sports, fine, but relax and enjoy the company. Have a glass of wine and some laughs. Pick a team and cheer for them. Most importantly have a smile on your face and drop the snippy comments. Any unwitty blabber like: “Men are such children” or “It’s just a game, get over it” may be met with overwhelming unchecked aggression.

7. Enjoy the game: At every Super Bowl party there are people who make it a point to announce that they hate football… then they announce it again… and again. If you don’t like football, don’t come to the Super Bowl party. If you are there, sit down, shut up, and enjoy the game… or go somewhere else. Your presence isn’t a privilege to the others, despite your thoughts to the contrary.

That’s all there is to it. It’s not anything revolutionary; in fact it’s basically a primer on how to act in a social setting. Unfortunately, self-entitlement is the new “in” thing. More and more people truly believe that the world revolves around them and their opinion is the only thing that matters. If you are someone who has broken any or all of the rules above, odds are you have already dismissed your New Year’s resolution. Here’s a new one for you, follow the rules above when watching or attending a sporting event and I guarantee it will lead to a much happier and more peaceful home-life because of it.


4 Responses to “Rules for Watching Sports for the Non-Sports Fan”

  1. I’m printing multiple copies of this and distributing them to my friends.

    Posted by Betheny | February 9, 2011, 10:48 pm

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