Monday, January 30, 2012

Talkin' Football

I was born and raised in Massachusetts.  Because of that, I've been getting this alot lately:

"So, you must be excited about the Patriots getting to the Super Bowl, huh?"

My general response has been something like this:

"Ummm....Sure....I guess...."

You see, I don't really follow football. In fact, I don't even really like football. I think it's kind of boring. Actually, I think it's VERY boring.  To me, watching a football game feels alot like being stuck in traffic- all kinds of crazy stuff happens for like, 30 seconds- then you sit and do nothing while all of the cars (players) re-align themselves for three minutes before repeating the cycle again.

I don't begrudge anyone their love of football. I mean, I love lots of stuff that the general public probably finds boring (Star Trek, 1,500 page fantasy novels, CSPAN, spreadsheets). What is annoying is that many people A) assume that everyone likes football and B) get weirdly mad when you say that you don't. Actually, people get like this about all sports which makes life hard for many nerds. While there are plenty of nerds who like sports (I for one, love ice hockey, baseball, and the Olympics), many do not.

Sports come up in conversation for the same reasons and with the same frequency as discussions about the weather. When you see someone with whom you are only casually acquainted, you bring up the weather because you know it is something universal. Everyone knows about the weather. Everyone is affected by the weather. The weather (unlike say, politics, religion, or the Star Wars prequels) is a completely inoffensive topic. "Boy, it's sure cold outside!" Yes, random person who I kind of know. It sure is.

Many people think about sports in the same way. Everyone follows sports, everyone knows about sports, and unless you are a fan of a team that is an enemy of the team being discussed, sports are a fairly inoffensive topic "Hey, did you hear that the Patriots are in the Super Bowl?" The answer to this question is supposed to be yes. But if you say "No" or "Yes, but I'm really more excited about the Puppy Bowl this year" peoples' heads explode.

"You don't, but...why? It's amazing? I don't....I just....error....error....Danger Will Robinson" EXPLODE!

See here is the thing about sports. They are NOT like the weather. Not everyone follows them. Or enjoys them. And that's fine. As my Dad always says "It takes all kinds of people to make the world go 'round." It's just kind of silly to act like they are something universal, and even sillier to get upset with someone for admitting that they don't like sports.

What can you do? Well, I don't think I'm going to convince anyone not to bring football up in conversation. I wouldn't even try. But the next time someone says "I don't really follow football" instead of acting like they just made a really witty, stinging joke about your mother, just say "Oh, that's fine. Boy, it's sure cold outside!"


  1. Amen, brother. The same thing happens to me with baseball. I actually think that you're judged even more harshly for liking a sport when you do like other sports. It's as if you can't be just a hockey fan, you have to be a sports fan and that's way too much work.

  2. Your point is well-made, but I think you have to be careful of conflating the SuperBowl with football. The SuperBowl has become much more of a cultural event - commercials, crappy half time shows, gambling, tie ins (celebrity death match, puppy bowl, etc.).

    1. Hi Anonymous Commenter,

      I was just using the SuperBowl as an example of a recent situation that has caused this conversation to come up. I could have used any football thing as an example.