Tuesday, April 29, 2008

But I'm A Good Sport About It

I don't "do" sports. By that I mean that I don't attend, watch, listen to, or read about high school, college, or professional sports, whether it be football, basketball, baseball, hockey, golf, toenail clipping, whatever.

If people bother to consider it at all they often come to the conclusion that I must either be gay or a world-class nerd. They seem surprised to find that I am happily married, have a child, don't particularly care for science fiction, don't attend renaissance festivals, and don't have a collection of Star Wars action figures. Not that any of these characteristics necessarily ensures heterosexuality or geekiness, but the absence of them has no bearing on my feelings about sports, either.

When I first moved to North Carolina in 1984, it became apparent pretty quickly that everyone there assumed first of all that you were a college basketball fan and furthermore that you were either an NC State or a UNC fan. They would smile derisively at those lower life forms who were Duke University fans, and gaze pityingly on those barely-on-the-food-chain Wake Forest fans. On many mornings, someone would attempt to engage me in conversation on last night's game. When I would tell them that I was not a basketball fan, they would look at me as if I had just announced that I didn't have lungs. I tried to sidestep the derision at one point by stating that I was from SEC country, which was big on football, and not from the basketball stronghold of the ACC. I got a different response from that, much like I had said that I was from one of the smaller moons of Neptune.

There are a lot of reasons, I suppose, that I don't go in for sports; I find many of the team names as well as many of the players (and fans) offensive, I don't appreciate my tax dollars going to subsidize a big, new stadium and all that goes with it, they often preempt a TV show I really wanted to see, and I hate getting caught in the traffic jams around game time. The biggest reason, however, is this:

I don't care.

That's right, I have a "Y" chromosome and I don't care. Aside from the above annoyances, sports simply has no effect whatsoever on my life. I have a real life that rarely includes fantasy. Those same sports fans who scoff at such things as renaissance fair(e)s and the Society for Creative Anachronism don't give a second thought to saying "We won!" when their total contribution to the game was to open the bag of pork rinds and a can of beer during each commercial.

Oh, I know the games. I know the rules of baseball. I know the differences between the rules for college football and professional football. I know why it's called "The World Series" even though it only includes North American teams (a piece of trivia which, by the way, is more interesting to me than any of the actual events will ever be).

I just don't care.

So why do I constantly have to explain myself? Someone will ask me about "that game" over the weekend and when I explain that I'm not a fan, they feel compelled to tell me all about it anyway. If anyone were to ask, "Did you eat Brussels sprouts over the weekend?", and I said, "No, I don't like Brussels sprouts", they certainly wouldn't want to know why, nor would they insist on rabbiting on about how much they enjoyed the Brussels sprouts. And they wouldn't automatically make assumptions regarding my lifestyle.

Dave Barry once did an entire article in which he developed a hypothetical situation where he was a huge fan of Amtrak. He knew all the conductors' names and their on-time records and how much baggage was lost on each route for the past 40 years. When his favorite conductor was found in the engine compartment passed out drunk and wearing a bunny suit, he went into a deep blue funk for a month. In that situation, he said, people would consider getting him "special help", but people who know this sort of information about sports are called "aficionados" or, at worst, "rabid fans". Right. Aficionados are mere fanciers of a subject, and anything else that's found to be rabid is destroyed.

So when all you sports fans out there go into work in the morning and try to start up a conversation with someone about "the big game", if the person you're talking with says that they don't care for that particular sport, that particular team, or that particular game, give your situational awareness a boost and just shut up.


No comments:

Add to Technorati Favorites