Confession: I Don’t Know Who Won the World Series
I have a difficult confession to make. I can’t tell you who won the World Series this week. I can’t even tell you who played in the World Series. Please don’t judge me too harshly, but, I don’t care either.
It’s difficult to be a man in America and know nothing about sports. I can’t tell you the name of more than two or three baseball players and I have to think to remember the name of the football team in the city where I live. It’s not for lack of trying, like everyone else I’m exposed to sports 24/7 and couldn’t shut it out if I wanted to. For me, all sports facts slide off my brain as if the were coated in WD-40 and my brain was greased Teflon. I can’t even force them in when I try.
I know it’s not genetic. I have an uncle who was an NFL quarterback with a Superbowl ring. I even played Little League for six years as a kid. I mentioned that to someone the other day and they asked if I was ever on a good team. Their assumption, I guess, was that if I had been on a good team I would remember it. I honestly couldn’t remember if we were any good or not, mere minutes after each game I wouldn’t have been able to tell you if we had won or lost. I am an aberration, a sports hating mutant doomed to walk the Earth completely unable to communicate with a large portion of the US population.
Years ago, I noticed a female boss listening to a book on tape with a pained look on her face. When I asked her what it was, she told me it was a tape made for women executives who wanted to participate in conversations about golf with their male counterparts. It included vocabulary and anecdotes that you could slip into conversation. It was like a book given to a German spy in WWII to help him pass himself off as an American.
I could never answer a question about the World Series. So in every movie I watch where a group of GIs corner the outsider and pepper him with questions, I’d die. For the record, I’m not a spy, I just can’t follow sports. But, that doesn’t stop people from treating me like a spy when they find out.
In fact, a Sports Illustrated writer I talked to could barely hide his disgust with me when I admitted I didn’t know how Seattle’s football season was going. It wasn’t even derision in his voice, it was distaste and a drop of hatred. I’ve had discussions stop when I approached coworkers talking about who is going to make it to the finals. My dry cleaner rolled his eyes at me when I wouldn’t let a professional basketball player skip ahead of me in line to drop off his laundry. When I pointed out that I was there first, he looked to the player who shrugged and nodded his approval for me to be served. Since then, my dry cleaner has treated me as if I’m a little slow and my collars definitely aren’t as starchy as they used to be.
Here are a few phrases I use to pass undetected when I’m forced to talk sports during a business lunch, or when I’m having my car towed and the driver is making innocent small talk.
“I used to like the Yankees, before it was all about the money.”
“I only follow college basketball.”
“I only follow professional basketball.”
“I’ve got the game recorded. Don’t spoil it for me.”
“Oof, I can’t talk about that. I lost a ton of money. It’s too painful.”
“Did you see him when he hosted Saturday Night Live? Why do they even let sports guys host?”
“Golf is something I love to play, but I can’t watch it on TV.”
“<insert sport here> is too commercial now. Soon they’ll be slapping logos on their <insert piece of sporting equipment>.”
“Professional boxing is all fixed. Who needs it?”
I have also found that instead of speaking in sentences it works just as well to make growling and whooping noises. This not only stops the conversation but can also inspire the other person to communicate in a series of grunts.
These don’t work for long if your knowledge is as paper-thin as mine, so use them carefully. Don’t try to pass yourself off as one of them if a long conversation is in the works, admit your failings up front.
If you suffer the same affliction, please leave your suggestions in the comments below. If we work together, we can all participate in “guy talk” without fear.
Image provided by curiousexpeditions