Hate Sports, Want to Talk about Them
January 15, 2011 5:08 PM   Subscribe

Help me maintain a superficial knowledge of sports with minimal effort.

My office is pretty sports-obsessed, and I'd like to participate more in the conversations. I've found this thread, but I didn't find it that helpful.

Most of the advice on that thread came down to "be yourself and don't try to fake it," or "read the sports page." I've already decided to fake it, so I don't want advice on that matter. I don't subscribe to a newspaper, and I don't want to spend time reading sports or team-specific websites, sifting through a newspaper's sports articles without knowing what's important, listening to sports radio, or watching ESPN.

My dream resource would be an RSS feed like the Atlantic Wire but for sports - a rundown of the top stories, and a few lines from different perspectives. Failing that, I'd like a morning briefing, or list of talking points. Basically a two or three page document summarizing whatever's on SportsCenter that morning. Like the old "Today's Papers" feature on Slate.

Any ideas?
posted by charleskinbote to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (25 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
There's Ballbug for baseball. Skimming the front page should give you a decent overview of the current MLB stories.
posted by aheckler at 5:15 PM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Though they would never admit it, MSNBC Sports seems tailor made for this.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:20 PM on January 15, 2011

Well, there's the classic "How to Fake a Football Orgasm". It's more focused on surviving the actual watching of a football game, but if nothing else it's funny.
posted by restless_nomad at 5:25 PM on January 15, 2011

Personally I just spend five minutes on espn.com every morning. I usually check a few scores and skim a few articles. Like pop culture it takes very little time to cover most of it.
posted by MillMan at 5:38 PM on January 15, 2011

Listen to the local sports radio station on your commute.
posted by sanka at 5:41 PM on January 15, 2011

Are you looking more to know the stories themselves, or to acquire amusing and impressive second-hand opinions on them? The former would be quicker, and would allow you to understand the conversations, though not necessarily to participate in them yourself - I'd second those people who linked to the websites of network news outlets. CBS Sports, for instance, has a 'top stories' panel, which appears to be in roughly descending order of importance, so you could just read the first few and avoid the more minor stuff.

If the latter, it's a rather bigger time investment. For basketball, you could try the Daily Bullets section on Truehoop - every day a smattering of opinion-y blog posts on the topic. Every two days read one, wiki up anything you don't know, and voila - instant contrarian views to delight and divert.
posted by piato at 5:45 PM on January 15, 2011

Check out Fanhouse. It's front page seems to do pretty much what you want.
posted by oddman at 5:46 PM on January 15, 2011

Go to Espn.com and just scan the main two content boxes -- the main image and the 10-headline news box. All you need.

If you go the sports radio option, choose either a national show or a local show, depending on your co-workers tastes. For example, there are two main sports radio stations in Seattle, one with a national bent and one very local. The content focus is wildly different.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:48 PM on January 15, 2011

ESPN.com, or SI.com, or the sports section of news.google.com. Some things will be top headlines. It will be obvious.

It's also probably going to be obvious that you don't like sports and that you're faking it, FYI. You're also going to have a problem saying you don't want team-specific stuff -- if you live in Boston, you might be better off scanning the Boston Globe's sports section, since sports fans in your office are probably going to talk about the Sox/Celtics/Patriots as well as the big global goings-on in sport (or if you're in NY, the Yankees/Knicks/Jets; SF, the Giants/49ers/Raiders; etc.).
posted by J. Wilson at 5:58 PM on January 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Pardon the Interruption is something that is enjoyed by my non-sports-liking (or at least sports neutral) boyfriend and would certainly give you 30-minutes of headlines/discussion points.

I also recommend "Hang Up and Listen" - Slate's sports podcast -- which, as far as "sports talk" goes is fairly intelligent.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:32 PM on January 15, 2011

Like J. Wilson said, faking it can be tough. You can probably pull off having a general interest, but there are nuances to being a fan that expose posers.
posted by lobstah at 6:35 PM on January 15, 2011

I don't subscribe to a newspaper, and I don't want to spend time reading sports or team-specific websites, sifting through a newspaper's sports articles without knowing what's important, listening to sports radio, or watching ESPN.

Thats exactly what I would have said to accomplish your goal...but barring that, I would say:

"ummm....keep espn's SPORTSCENTER on in the background while you are doing some non-essential stuff at your place. Think shaving, dressing, cooking, etc".

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:39 PM on January 15, 2011

Check out Deadspin.com.

It brings the usual Gawker Media snark to the realm of sports coverage, so even if you're not that interested in the subject, you might find it more of an enjoyable read. Also, because it's unapologetically opinionated and isn't trying to white-wash sports with feel-good stories, the tone is a lot closer to what real sports fans might say.
posted by patnasty at 6:41 PM on January 15, 2011

Oh, boy, do I sympathize with your dilemma. I posted about my experiences with this a few months ago, and it's a serious issue when your career depends on sports talk as a bonding experience, and you detest sports.

I find you need to cultivate a certain kind of personality - the guy who doesn't talk a lot about sports, but has his very definite opinions. The way to do that, is to watch a post game analysis on TV on a particular occasion, remember what the consensus seems to be, and then the following day regurgitate that, but crucially, with a kind of knowing and bored look "yeah, it's obvious they should get another qb, this guy is just not up to it, and when he threw that one pass right after blah, blah, blah". Now you've established yourself as someone who KNOWS. After that, just go with the consensus in the group, latch onto whatever seems to be the prevailing opinion, but don't shout about it, just sort of nod your assent, and always with a KNOWING look. From then on, you only need to do maintenance once a month or so - you sacrifice and watch 30 minutes of a post game show, and you're good for the next 30 days of riding that bit of credibility before you need to refill. Yuck, it's pure torture, but you gotta sacrifice somewhere.
posted by VikingSword at 6:46 PM on January 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm very much a non-sports guy, but my fluency of sports knowledge has increased dramatically since I started listening to the Funemployment Radio podcast.

It's a drunken comedy show that mainly consists of profane banter between two unemployed former radio professionals, but every episode has a segment called "Ball Talk" where they talk about games they've seen on TV and what's going on in the world of sports, at the college and pro levels.
posted by Muttoneer at 7:23 PM on January 15, 2011

One note of caution: faking it can lead to you being left out AND looking like an ass. Or worse, invited to things.

Obligatory IT Crowd link
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 7:37 PM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

One good way to address this can be to find new perspectives on sports themselves; Half my social circle found football in all it's forms far more compelling after seeing the stories of Friday Night Lights. If you find a lens like that through which you can observe, it'll be far easier than forcing yourself to care about esoterica, which you'll never be able to sustain.
posted by anildash at 7:40 PM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


First, both ESPN and SI maintain "Power Rankings" for all of the major sports, updated on a weekly basis. There are roughly thirty teams in any given sport worth knowing about, and of those, only pay attention to the top ten in the power rankings. Google any names or terms in those top ten that are unfamiliar to you. This will be tedious at first, but simple as pie by the third week.

If your office loves a particular sport, like Football, figure out who the folksy, readable columnists covering that sport are... in Football, that's Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback on SI.com and Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback on ESPN.com. Either way, you really won't need to leave either SI or ESPN's site to keep up.


If they're into baseball, you're fucked. Pay whatever you need to pay to read Peter Gammon's column online, and also put Ken Burns' "Baseball" on your Netflix queue, including the "Tenth Inning" update to same, or you'll never catch up. Once caught up, the power rankings and Gammons blog will be enough to keep savvy.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:24 PM on January 15, 2011

It looks like the suggestions so far have the current sports scene (in other words, what happened last night) covered, but this won't be near enough to even begin to fake any type of knowledge of sports, superficial or not. Particularly if the office gang is "sports obsessed".

Faking knowledge about sports is like faking knowledge about anything else, it can't be done, particularly around people who are knowledgeable.

However, if you still want to try, check this out How To Fake Sports Knowledge.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 8:40 PM on January 15, 2011

Seconding Pardon the Interruption. You could download the previous evening's audio podcast and listen to it on the ride into work.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:54 AM on January 16, 2011

I probably should have added that my family and some of my roommates over the years have been pretty into sports, so I'm familiar enough that I don't make any obvious blunders like asking how many touchdowns the Yankees scored last night. I just need to know what's going on from day to day. I have a boss who likes to ask everyone what their picks are for the upcoming big game and things like that, and I'm afraid I might have to join his fantasy baseball league in the spring.

I appreciate the great answers so far. A lot of those websites look pretty helpful, and I've bookmarked a few of them.
posted by charleskinbote at 4:43 AM on January 16, 2011

Also, for anyone with a similar problem reading this thread in the future, I just registered at espn.com to be able to personalize the home page. The e-mail preferences part of the signup process asks if you'd like to receive the "Sportscenter Daily Rundown," which sounds perfect.
posted by charleskinbote at 4:52 AM on January 16, 2011

First off, you'll have an easier time if you change your attitude a bit. Do you really "hate" sports? I doubt it. And if you do, why? I don't understand how someone can have such an ultra-negative reaction to someone else's hobbies.

Secondly, if it's football your office likes, look at the stat lines for the QBs from the game before. These are usually easy to remember, and mostly if you can remember how many TDs and INTs the quarterbacks had, you're in good shape. If you can remember how many times the quarterback was sacked, you're in good shape too.

So, if your office wants to discuss the awesome dismantling of the Atlanta Falcons by the Green Bay Packers on Monday morning, the conversation might go like this:

THEM: Man, did you see that game Saturday night?
YOU: I couldn't believe it. Matt Ryan, throwing two interceptions?
THEM: I know! Matty Ice, not this time. Did you see the pick-six he threw right before the half?
YOU: Amazing, right? (Even though you probably didn't see it.)
THEM: Crazy. Aaron Rodgers totally should have been selected for the Pro Bowl, not Matt Ryan.
YOU: No kidding. Aaron Rodgers, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions! What great numbers!
THEM: That ought to shut up the critics!

See? You didn't even really have to say/remember anything complicated at all, and it comes off like you watched the game.
posted by King Bee at 6:43 AM on January 16, 2011

A daily scan of RealClearSports should suffice.
posted by ajr at 10:29 AM on January 16, 2011

Listen to the Slate sports podcast "Hang Up And listen" on Monday evenings, and then use what you hear to ask smart questions. Everyone likes a willing audience, and so they'll give you their two cents wihtout ever wondering if you have your own opinion.

The podcast itself is a lot of fun, and always worth the forty-odd minutes each week. My kids and new house mean I never watch sports anymore, and I don't have time to keep up on the reading. But "Hang Up And Listen" is a good substitute because it covers three or four big stories a week, plus a quick "cocktail chatter" item from each of the three co-hosts at the end. Any of these should be useful for tricking your co-workers into doing the conversational heavy lifting. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 10:26 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

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