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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Further Evidence That Not Liking Sports Makes You a Social Outcast

I really wish I could get into sports--watching them, playing them, not wanting to scream out of sheer frustration whenever polite conversation turns to them. I don't know if its a case of nature or nurture. Growing up, my mother (who comes from a family of artists) always encouraged my creative instincts. I drew, I took pictures, I played instruments, I wrote. I remember never feeling 100% comfortable with physical activities. Having been born in November, and thus being younger than a lot of my peers, and naturally being small, I always had the feeling of having less developed motor skills than everyone else. Gym class was always an anxious experience. The sheer pressure of having to perform and lacking confidence in my abilities made it a total nightmare, and it probably caused me to be worse at sports than I actually was. I discovered dance, which I liked well enough and spent much of my youth in jazz, tap, and ballet classes until I eventually quit when I discovered that pointe is just as painful as it looks and requires too huge a time commitment than I was willing to endure.

As vanity has compelled me to work out as an adult, I have been amazed by my body's immediate response to physical activity--the way in which I can quickly gain muscle tone quickly and my unnaturally large female biceps. A few years ago I had a boyfriend who was convinced I'd be a great swimmer--something about my shoulders and back, but water freaks me out so that's a no go. Recently I have begun to wonder if perhaps I have some natural athletic predispositions after all, but my long sorted history of having zero confidence in the heat of the game continues to hold me back. That, and I think I'm a little lazy.

Likewise, I have never had an urge to watch sports on television. I can't relate to people who are entertained by watching people run around inside a glowing little box, their activity interrupted once every few minutes for beer or automobile advertisements. But now that I am a grownup, I really wish that somebody had taken me aside as a youngster and explained to me the social significance of sports. I wish somebody had told me that not caring about or liking sports automatically excludes you from bonding experiences with your peers and marginalizes you during routine conversation. Case in point, today all of my peers at work are downtown at a pub watching the US play whoever in the World Cup. I was not invited, I presume because all at-work conversation about soccer has caused me to roll my eyes and reach for a crossword puzzle. Still, I can't help but feel left out. It's a lonely feeling when everyone else is dedicated to something that means absolutely nothing to you at all.


Anonymous the good doctor said...

2 main reasons I like sports:
1) They are mindless. As someone who gets tired of thinking fairly easily (or is extremely lazy - however you want to describe it), sports allow me to escape the real world and just space-out. I can put just about any Major League Baseball game on tv and be completely entertained, which isn’t really noble, but very convenient. I love how sports have little to no connection to the real world, as I can read about players and teams for hours and still feel like nothing was accomplished. Sports are the ultimate time-killer.
2) They’re a universal common denominator. Sports make it much easier to talk to people outside your generation, and allow people to relate to each other beyond income/racial/social divides. I don’t know how many times I have “won someone over” through bullshit sports small-talk, it’s kind of sad really. But the truth is, if you’re talking to someone and you both love or hate the same team or player(s), a bond is often formed that is way more profound than anything you would have reached with normal bullshit small-talk.

It sounds like you were screwed from the start with sports, though it likely paid dividends for your mind. There is no doubt that people without any interest in sports are often marginalized socially, probably a product of society pandering to the lowest common denominator (see #2).

What’s interesting is that you haven’t gone as far as to fake interest yet, as usually any female who doesn’t become openly hostile around sports discussions is included in any group with great enthusiasm. I’m guessing you’re that woman who makes snide comments about “feeling really included in the discussion” when the subject turns to sports for 5 minutes.

6:33 PM  
Blogger ejtakeslife said...

A conversation I had about today's game is a good summary of the truth in sports-related gender sterotypes:

Male: That game was ass. That penalty was so fucking ridiculous.

EJ: Good for Ghana! It matters more to them and the US has everything else, anyways.

Male: ACK. You have got to be KIDDING ME.

7:34 PM  
Blogger Anne G G said...

Yeah, my husband says the worst thing about Soccer is that you can tie, and I think it's one of the best things. Why shouldn't everyone win (or of course, as he puts it, everyone lose).

I know women get into sports too, but man . . . I dunno . . .

Of course, last night when the Reds won, I found myself launching my lips at my husband in glee, and we made out furiously. Now why was that???

7:55 PM  

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