Thursday, April 7, 2011

Left out of the field

Q. I am not interested in watching or following any sports. Being a male that works in a predominantly male workplace, I am constantly put in awkward small talk discussions that I cannot participate in. I’m beginning to find it a bit emasculating. What’s a response I can give?
Preferably one that would:
1. Not undermine their obvious interest in sports
2. Inform them I have no interest in sports
3. Preserve (or establish) a manly image despite my sports knowledge deficiency

Dear Awkward with balls,
As I see it you have a few options.
Take the elitist hipster approach: You'll say, "Yeah I was way into Basketball (or whatever) until I started seeing kids and old ladies in the audience... Add to that the corporate sponsorships and the uniforms... It was all just too much. It took away from the pure explosiveness of the moment." Then lament about the first time you saw the game played. "Yeah man, the first time I saw a basketball game, it was like in this basement arena. And the ball... The ball wasn't even a ball. It was a wad of t-shirts duct taped together. And the hoop? A GARBAGE CAN. It was so pure. So primal. Pure aggression. I really miss those days." Allow your self to get lost in thought for a moment, then turn to one of the males you've been talking with and say something like, "So your still into basketball? That's cool. Tell me about it. What's going on with it these days?" Before they get a chance to answer throw in a new sport that you are really into. It's best if no one has ever heard of it. If you need a sport to throw out this: "Have you seen a Rudge match? It's amazing. The guys that started it, formed a league, played one game with all teams participating at once and then disbanded."
Do that and you will have just secured your place as alpha male. But you won't care because you were alpha male in grade school and you're so over it at this point in your life.

However you may be more comfortable taking the "It's too painful" route. When ever sports are brought up talk about how you played in high school. It was your life. Your identity and future. Then you suffered a knee injury. Your world was crushed. Since then you haven't been able to follow sports at all. It's just too painful.
All you have to do to pull this off is make a few photoshopped snapshots of your self in different sporting uniforms. Memorize a few facts about sports from when you were in high school. Mostly you can get by just knowing the Michael Jordan's and the Larry Bird's. Learn a few obscure facts and it'll make people think you really knew your stuff.
If people start to ask you too many questions, just remind them that it really is too painful and then get back to work.

Maybe you want to be more included. If this is the case you may need to take the "Ah, I'm too busy" approach: "Ah, I'm too busy! I missed the game. So tell me, what happened?" Then you just have to let them talk. Which is all they want to do anyway. It's always a nice touch to parrot some of their words, phrases and opinions. "Oh yeah they totally shouldn't have traded the Jek-ster. What a mistake!" Easy as that. You are still a man and the other guy feels like he's being a pal, and a little superior- and isn't that really the key to any male relationship?

To inform them that it just isn't your thing try to say it this way. "You know I've tried to get into baseball (or football or whatever) but it just never caught my attention. I like to see a really good play now and then. And I find the ballpark environment relaxing and enjoyable (even if you don't. Saying anything other than this will raise more questions than you want) but it just hasn't been my thing. Then list a bunch of other manly things you are interested in.

But if it's really important to you. You may have to actually step into the wide world of sports. At least just a bit. A quick look at a highlight reel from the previous night and a scan of the latest sports headlines can be very informative. Armed with some actual facts and a few Did-you-see's and what-do-you-think-about's will get you even farther than you are likely interested.

Lastly, keep in mind girls always trump sports. Just talk about how you were and are and always intend to be more interested in girls. Then make some comment like, with so many girls in my life who had time to watch dudes in polyester tights running around in a field playing with their balls?

I think any one of these options used at the right moment will help you score a conversational home run.
Hope this helps.

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