Help me like talking about sports.
April 23, 2009 4:29 PM   Subscribe

Help me like talking about sports.

OK, so I am bored silly watching, talking about, or going to professional sports events.

Yet I go to the gym every day and work out for two hours or so. So I am athletic but I don't like sports. Got that?

Oh, and I'm a straight guy too so there is a cultural assumption that I have to like 'em.

I get athletes' talents and respect those talents but it just ain't interesting!
posted by dfriedman to Human Relations (27 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
So, is there any particular reason you want to like talking about sports? Or do you just feel it will make you a more complete person?

In the long run it is a pretty trivial thing, and I'd rather invest the energy into something else that might have more impact on your life, like learning a new skill.
posted by edgeways at 4:35 PM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you're not interested in sports, then I doubt anyone here can talk you into liking them, especially since you haven't explained your dislike much further than "they're boring."
posted by MegoSteve at 4:39 PM on April 23, 2009

It seems as though you enjoy talking about not liking sports. That's talking about sports. Become better able to articulate what it is that you don't like about sports, and why you feel that way, and you may be able to have some interesting conversations that are , at least in some sense, about sports. Make sure to back your arguments up with statistics, though. There's nothing sports-lovers like more than statistics. Seriously.
posted by dersins at 4:42 PM on April 23, 2009

Well for starters, pick a sport. They're different enough. (I can talk baseball for a month without coming up for air, but if a basketball or hockey conversation starts up, I'm looking for the bar in three seconds flat.)

Choose football (gridiron) if you like that whole military tactics thing about planning for a week and then executing under tough conditions, football (soccer) if you love drunken brawls, basketball if you're a fast action and car chase kind of guy, baseball if you like overthinking every tiny little bean on the plate, or hockey if you're Canadian.
posted by rokusan at 4:44 PM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Become better able to articulate what it is that you don't like about sports, and why you feel that way, and you may be able to have some interesting conversations....

Please don't do this.

You'll be that guy at the party everyone wishes stayed home, or the person who walks into a MetaFilter thread about a topic they don't like, just to crap all over it.
posted by rokusan at 4:45 PM on April 23, 2009 [2 favorites]

I don't see how being athletic == liking sports.

Why should you like talking about sports? No sense in being who you aren't.

To answer the question, I don't follow any sports, and don't care about how teams are doing, but I do find exceptional events in sports to be interesting - 17 foul balls, an amazing triple play, a complete shutout in soccer, a 101yd kickoff return, etc.

You don't have to care or know about the teams, but people really enjoy talking about their teams or sports, and can entertain you with their exploits (as well explaining why they are significant, turning it into a learning experience). This works for all sports, at all levels.
posted by jpeacock at 4:48 PM on April 23, 2009

My two cents? Don't talk about sports! I run marathons, but I find organized sports to be boring. Sooo....I talk about other stuff. If you don't like 'em, screw 'em. I'm sure you have lots of other things to talk about and you might be surprised at how many other people who workout at the gym for 2 hours a day also don't find sports to be particularly interesting. Try talking about music, your workout for the day, a new movie, politics, food, animals, cheese, Spaceballs, farming, brewing, umbrellas, engineering, electronics, Playstation...there's gotta be a few things that you're interested in. And if a bunch of other dudes are talking sports, just smile and nod and steer the conversation elsewhere.
posted by cachondeo45 at 4:48 PM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

You can talk about other aspects of sports than the game itself such as the salaries, the new stadium, the use of performance enhancing drugs, etc. As a math person, I like talking about statistics of sports and probabilities in different situations. Also, if you are really determined to like talking about sports, force yourself to listen to sports talk radio for as long as you can each day. The repetitive nature of it will make it almost second nature. When I lived in SF, I actually liked the Raiders even though I am a lifelong Giants fan because I would listen to sports talk radio driving home and all they would talk about was Raider nation. Sort of like being indoctrinated in a prison camp or fraternity hazing.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:49 PM on April 23, 2009

Yeah, I've got the same problem. I think part of the problem is that I (and perhaps you) have no kind of investment in sports. I don't have a dog in the fight. So there's not just a lack of intellectual engagement, there's a lack of emotional engagement. I think that to like talking about sports that engagement is very important. The easiest way to do this is probably to start following your local teams and reading the sports section occasionally.

Another way to solve the problem are just basic conversation tricks like asking the other person about their teams. Asking good questions here probably assumes that you have an average knowledge of sports, though.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 4:50 PM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Have you ever played any sports? The cultural assumption exists because most guys have grown up playing a wide variety of sports, and can relate better than just someone who watches it on TV.
posted by meowzilla at 4:51 PM on April 23, 2009

Hmm I wouldnt worry about it. I am a straight guy and dont like talking about sports either. Heck the only sport i like watching is soccer.
posted by majortom1981 at 4:55 PM on April 23, 2009

There's more to sports than sports, if you get me.

Let's use baseball as an example. Does talking about baseball stats bore you to tears?

Then talk about how, in Seattle, you can now order beer and hot dogs at the ballpark, delivered to your seat, using a Nintendo DS. Isn't that crazy? Yeah, it's a technology and marketing test by Nintendo. Hey, did you know Nintendo owns a huge chunk of the Seattle Mariners? Isn't that kind of wild, that a big Japanese company owns an American baseball team? Did you know that that's common in Japanese baseball, for big companies to own teams? And that some teams are actually named after the companies? Seriously, there's the Orix Buffaloes, and they're owned by Orix, a financial services company. That'd be like AIG buying the Yankees and calling them the AIG Bailouts.

See what I did there? I turned a baseball conversation into a conversation about technology, business and comparative cultural analysis. And I threw in a little topical joke, too.

Wasn't a great joke, but still...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:05 PM on April 23, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm with you: athletic, work out, and totally bored by (most) sports. I can watch football (and try to watch the Superbowl every year, though I've missed the past 3 years), but I don't care at all who wins unless I put some money on the game. The only exceptions are boxing and MMA, which I like because there generally aren't LONG periods where nothing happens, and I find the rules less arbitrary.

If you really want to be able to talk about sports (and you don't mention why you would want to, but I can see where that could be useful in some situations), I'd say put some money down on some games. Just a $2 or $5 bet once a week in the sport of your choice. You don't even have to watch the games if you don't want -- just read about them the following day to see if you won or not, and watch the highlights to see WHY you won (who scored most, who got hurt, etc.)

You'll quickly learn which teams excel and which suck, and be able to relate at least on some level when the office jocks are discussing the various personalities.

On the other hand, you could do what I do: Embrace your sports apathy and focus on things that legitimately interest you.
posted by coolguymichael at 5:35 PM on April 23, 2009

Coolguy, while the rules may not be arbitrary in boxing, it is the only sport I can think of where neither the participants nor the spectators know the score until the end. Of course you will have an opinion from watching, but...
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:41 PM on April 23, 2009

I'm also a straight guy who is bored silly by sports talk. Gah, it just drives me nuts when some local team wins a game and there's looting in the streets. And... the local team LOSES a game and the same thing happens. I dunno, I just don't get the appeal of any sport, and I've sort of tried over the years, but 2 minutes of televised football will make my eyes bleed.

Embrace your dislike of sports! We need more of you on our side.
posted by newfers at 5:46 PM on April 23, 2009

there is a cultural assumption that I have to

This is not a good reason.

Just do what you want. You don't like talking about sports; don't talk about sports.
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:49 PM on April 23, 2009

If you genuinely would LIKE to learn more about sports in order to talk about them, that's one thing. But just because there's a cultural assumption that you "should" talk about sports doesn't mean, you know, that you should. My boyfriend constantly encounters the assumption that he likes sports -- like you, he's athletic, works out several times a week, etc. -- but the one time I dragged him to a baseball game, I had to explain what an RBI is. *shrugs* That's just how it goes. We have a million other things to talk about, and he has plenty of friends and colleagues who don't seem to care that he doesn't talk about sports, either.

Honestly, if you don't care for sports, you don't have to make yourself care for sports, or even learn how to fake it.
posted by scody at 6:04 PM on April 23, 2009

Take a few minutes to learn a few basic phrases. E.g., "Game of inches." "Like I always say -- it's a passing game." "How about them Tigers?" "Anybody ever hear of pitching?" Sometimes a word will do -- just shake your head and say "Defense." Plus, nod furiously when anyone else says something. This strategy will get you through 95 percent of all sports conversations.
posted by Brzht at 6:20 PM on April 23, 2009

I do like sports, but my interest ebbs and flows. For the last two years, I've barely paid attention.

BUT...I've found myself at no disadvantage when talking to other guys about sports. First off, most people just want to spout off their opinions and don't really care what you think. So just listen and ask questions and they'll think you're a genius. Secondly, try to remember a few of the more controversial things said in a previous conversation and then repeat those as appropriate in future conversations with sports fans. Ta-da!
posted by mullacc at 6:21 PM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Why bother pretending to like something you don't? Are you trying to impress your boss or something? Seriously, this seems like a pointless enterprise. Focus on who you are, not who people want you to be.
posted by paultopia at 6:35 PM on April 23, 2009

As people have suggested, there are various facets that might be of more interest: the athleticism, the human side of people getting to those levels and competing there, the mental side of it, accepted risk of serious injury or death (especially in motorsports and boxing).

To watch a top-level boxer train is amazing: the strength, speed, hand-eye coordination, reaction time is surreal.

The mental toughness, who can perform when it matters most--Super Bowl on the line, heat of the moment in a championship boxing match--fascinates me.

Stories are diverse as sons and daughters of athletes doing well, people clawing their way out of abject poverty. Some are humble and some are not.
posted by ambient2 at 12:37 AM on April 24, 2009

I am a laaaady, and an athletic one at that. When I am in a group and the conversation turns to sports (usually baseball in my group of friends) I really appreciate when one of my male friends turns to me and says, "Well, I'm not that into sports. But lovely weather we're having today!" and we have a nice side conversation.

Not only does this give me a like-minded person to talk to, it also makes me feel less like my disinterest in sports is due to my lady-ness, and due more to having other (better?) things to think about. So why change who you are to make small talk or fit a stereotype?

That said, when I know I'm going to be surrounded by sports nuts or watching a large sporting event (e.g. Superbowl) I just read the sports section of the newspaper for a few days in advance to stock up on anecdotes and buzzwords.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 1:36 AM on April 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Lots of good suggestions here. I'm like you. . . like to work out, straight, not into sports. Just be self-assured, and know there are more like you out there. Functional suggestion: just say, "I don't really follow ________" when someone asks you about sports. . . people get the idea. There's a give and take to even the most one-sided conversations.

I don't think being able to talk about sports is top 5 territory for any ol' boys network anyway. Some might disagree. . . but talking about cars, the ladies, financial stuff, (non-sports) entertainment, even gossip take up enough of the pie to where sports doesn't really matter too much.

With my biases on the table, I'd state that sports is often filler talk for guys who are socially awkward and can't talk about anything else. They kind of whip up the stats and the games and pointless analysis into something that resembles conversation. Yeah, I don't really follow it. They're so anxious that you can usually just hijack that talk to another subject.
posted by No New Diamonds Please at 1:51 AM on April 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have a friend who worked a brokerage firm and felt himself at a social disadvantage because he did not talk about sports. So he chose a sport - hockey - to become interested in. Interested meant reading all the hockey news in the newspaper during hockey season and watching some hockey on TV. He ended up being interested in hockey. If you want to be able to chat about sports it will take a bit of work. Of course asking a true fan his opinion in a leading way "So how do you think that new guy is working out?" will usually lead to a long period of time when you do not have to talk.
posted by shothotbot at 5:48 AM on April 24, 2009

I like talking about baseball way more than I like watching it (especially MLB). I like the way it can be described so completely with numbers. You could come off as a reasonably interested baseball fan just by reading your local sports pages to get a feel for who the stars on your local team are and by watching the highlight reels on ESPN once a week.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 6:28 AM on April 24, 2009

Sounds like you have an opportunity to use a bunch of brain-space and time for something you actually enjoy, rather than waste it on spectator sports. The problem here is what now?

posted by darkshade at 2:16 PM on April 24, 2009

You picked a funny time to ask this question, considering it's just before the NFL draft. So first wait until the mind-numbing, almost creepy obsession with athletic young draftees dies down (which should take about, oh, two weeks). As much as I'll aim to answer your question, no power on earth will get me to like talking about football.

First of all, having an HDTV gets people watching two things you'd never watch otherwise... nature documentaries and sports. For me, it was golf in particular (although it helps if Tiger's playing in a close one). Hockey's another sport that gets a boost from HD, and watching the playoffs going on right now is a good time to start.

Do you like games or competitions of any sort? I've even found the presidential campaign process rather similar to being a fan of a sports team. You follow their ups and downs, and learn a little more about the players and the process as time goes on. And there's the whole joy of victory and agony of defeat thing going as well.

It's never too late to get into sports. A lot of fans are practically born as fans, but I was ten when I first got into it with baseball. I wasn't into music at all until college, and now my mp3 player is practically fused to my ears. And I never would've imagined I'd ever have any interest in poker until I learned about it in my late 20s.. It might take a while for something to finally click in your mind and plant a seed as you watch, but it could happen. And perhaps you too will discover why the Yankees are so hateable.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 1:56 AM on April 25, 2009

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