Sports

I have an antagonistic relationship with sports. My dad was a star pitcher in high school, a brown belt in Karate and coached a Little League team. I liked to draw and not sweat. As his oldest boy, I couldn’t have been anything less than a disappointment, but he was good about not making me feel like one.

I let Dad take me to an Oakland A’s game once because it was in San Francisco and I knew I’d get a hot dog. As far as I was concerned, the only downside to the event was the actual game itself. I knew from Dad’s constant commandeering of the TV that pro baseball games were a lot like golf (and golf, as everyone knows, is boring)—lots of people standing around waiting for a guy to hit a ball with a big stick. The only real difference between the two is that chasing the ball down after the hit involves carts in golf, and running in baseball. Baseball is essentially golf with a track and field component.

At that particular A’s game, Rickey Henderson set a new record for the number of bases stolen over a career. He neither hit the ball nor threw it. Instead, everyone applauded him for running away from the ball a lot successfully. I fell asleep shortly thereafter.

I played two seasons of Soccer when I was in the lower grades, but I didn’t enjoy the experience. The ball seemed to always be gunning for me, and the number of hits I took to the crotch confirmed I wasn’t being paranoid. Really, I should have been grateful. The alternative to being waylaid by the attempted murder of my burgeoning manhood was running back and forth and back and forth across the field. Because someone had decided that soccer is a winter sport, this was unpleasant. Only heavy wheezing and cold, stabbing air through my lungs could make me long for the times after the big hits when I was stuck on the sidelines, holding my breath and doing my best to keep my groin from falling apart.

Now, I’m married and my disdain for sports is a huge asset. My wife also grew up in a house where crowd noise from the television was more common than silence. Since neither one of us watches sports, you’re more likely to hear conversation or the news or (more recently) songs about not biting your friends (thank you, Yo Gabba Gabba). Not saying this is better than sports noise, but it’s better for us.

My aversion to sports can sometimes make it difficult to engage in conversation with my male peers. Thankfully, Star Wars. That seems to be universal. When I meet women who are into sports it weirds me out–I always think they’re lying. I think of females as the sensible sex and when one of them goes off the Reservation like that it really messes with my head.

I understand the point of sports, I think. It builds character. It’s good exercise and teaches you about teamwork and pushes you to achieve more than you thought possible.

I don’t know. I don’t think any of that explains bowling.

Must all males enjoy sports? Also, what can we do about the females who join them? Island or Asylum? Weigh in below!

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21 comments

  1. As a kid, I got into hockey because that is what my dad and brothers were into. It really helped me bond with my dad, especially. He took me to games, just the two of us, and those are some of my best memories. Now? I can do without it…any of it. I go to Superbowl parties cuz there’s always good food. (I’ll do just about anything for good food)

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  2. The definition of “sport” can be a little broad, though. Bowling is a sport because it involves a physical element of competition and scoring points. So is ping pong. And pool and billiards. Running, on the other hand, is not a critical element of a sport. However, running is a sport in itself, since you’re trying to run faster than and complete a circuit in less time than someone else. Pole vaulters and long jumpers would say they played sports in school even when their sport of choice lasted a very short amount of time.

    My favorite sports are ones I’ve mentioned: ping pong, pool. But I equally love Ultimate Frisbee, which in “sport” usage is a more traditional sport.

    Basically I could say, “Let us sport,” and you’d say, “Which one?”, and I wouldn’t say “Board games” because there’s no physical aspect (unless you count spoons, a card game, in which I have successfully completed a flip over a table).

    Where is the line that divides walking from running, hitting a ball with a stick and croquet? I suppose it’s the competition. Sport = a physical competition that ends in a winner and a loser, anything from pool to football.

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    1. The competition is a big part of what makes sports unattractive to me, but at the same time I see the benefit of it. I guess I don’t like what that competition does to some people.

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      1. Exactly why I also have a disdain for sports. As a teacher I have seen how competition can sometimes be an excellent motivator, However, that should only be on occasion. The thing about sports and competition that I dislike the most is that the ultimate desire to win ends up creating one winner and a bunch of losers. I prefer activities where everyone actually can win. Academics, for instance.

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  3. Brock, don’t take this weird, but you seem to be a man after my own heart.
    There is nothing in this world that I couldn’t care less about then sports. I don’t play them, I don’t watch them, I don’t care about them. I’m the youngest of a family of 10. Six brothers, three sisters. Out of the seven boys in my family only one isn’t into sports. Me. You can imagine what family reunions are like. All of the guys are in the living room watching a game, while I’m in the kitchen listening to the females talking about female problems. While disgusting at the time as it was, that info came in handy after marriage.
    Any time I meet a new male person, one of the first questions they ask is a sports related one, like, what’s your team? Who do you want to win the super whatever? And so forth. As soon as I say I don’t watch sports, I get a funny look, and conversation over.
    So, just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone. There are probably few of us out there, but you’re not the only one.
    Hang in there.

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    1. Sorry, but I just had to say—I hate those conversations. I never watch sports, but those who do have no idea what to say when they find out I don’t. Very odd. Suddenly, I’m a phenomenon.

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      1. We three. We lonely, lonely three. At least you and I are brothers, Tyler.

        Thanks for chiming in, Harmon. That’s an insane family situation you’re in. You have my pity.

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        1. It isn’t just three, Brock, Tyler, Harmon. Being shaped something like an oblate spheroid, and more interested in words on paper than ball on grass, I never had the interest in doing sports. The only ones I watch anymore (and that isn’t much) are curling and figure skating.
          I used to bowl; it wasn’t a real craze for me like it was for others in my family, but I also used to have a lead crystal decanter… when I couldn’t catch it before it fell, a shard nicked the sheath of the tendon in my second finger (“the” finger), and I never was able to hold a bowling ball again without discomfort.
          Oh, well…

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  4. One great component of sports that often goes overlooked is… You will learn to lose. It’s inevitable that you’ll lose in sports. Many I have met in my life that didn’t play sports, typically have trouble losing in any competitive environment. Many, not all. Other than that, I agree completely with your comments on baseball and golf. Funny comparison and totally true.

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      1. Alexander, I have to agree with you. I’ve lost plenty of times outside of sports. I know good and well that failure is more common than success, but necessary.

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  5. I’m a bit of a weird guy here – I loathe team sports (soccer, football, hockey, baseball, basketball, you name it…) but love physical activity and individual sports. I find athletics highly entertaining (long jump, high jump, pole vault, the running events not so much even tho 100 meters are incredible), and I utterly and deeply love gymnastics, artistic skating and olympic weightlifting. I’m weird that way. Synchronized swimming is also nice to see, as is diving – the rest of swimming is pretty meh.

    I guess that my point is, not all sports are about teams and ultras. I also feel that a lot of people, especially youngsters, are put of of physical activity altogether because of over-zealant fathers and brothers, that make said activity utterly horrible. I loathed any kind of movement in junior high, then, almost twenty years later, not a day goes off without me hitting the gym, even if only for half an hour. I feel ten years younger ever since I started moving more.

    I think physical activity is a very important part of the development of an individual, especially at a young age. I also feel that imposing said physical activity is a mistake, and also the best way to make our kids hate sports forever. I guess that when my daughter will be old enough, I’ll have her try a bunch of different stuff. If something sticks, it will be her choice. If nothing sticks, well, at least I’ve tried.

    The point of this rant is not clear even to myself, but I’m sure I had something valid to say. Duh.

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    1. I think this certainly makes you a unique guy, Flaws. But I think I can see your perspective. You’re probably more of an introvert and enjoy doing things on your own, no? But at the same time, you enjoy physical activity.

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  6. As an adult, I do not enjoy sports. I do not enjoy sweating. Ever. This is why I moved from to Los Angeles. The climate here forces me to sweat very little. I do enjoy watching USC football games though, but mostly in person because it involves school cheers (it’s like I get to perform!) and is an opportunity for me to yell. There’s also a strange sense of togetherness as we root for a common thing. Also: stadium food.

    As a kid, I think sports helped me from seriously injuring my brother. A lot was happening in my family when I was little and I didn’t really understand that. Sports helped me have a release for the anger and confusion I felt. I had a problem with hitting/biting Brett even with that release in place. Without sports in my life, I think Brett would have incurred some serious injuries. They also made me feel accepted – when Brett, McKay, and Tyler let me play whatever front yard sport they were into it made me hate the fact that I wasn’t a boy like them (or they weren’t girls like me) a whole lot less. Was I good at sports? Absolutely not at all. I was the kid that had “hustle.” I played in a softball league for two years in elementary school. The second year, I finally hit the ball. I was very, very not good at sports. But luckily for me, the other kids in the neighborhood were not the greatest at sports either (though better than me), so I was still able to play along enough to feel like I was a part of the group. It should also be noted that the “sports” we played in the neighborhood were things like “riding bikes,” “horse,” “keep away,” swimming and diving competitions, croquet, and a brief foray into street hockey.

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    1. Street hockey! I remember that period, I think. That was actually kind of fun. I never thought about what it must have been like for you on a street full of boys. Sounds like you made the best of it, but I’m sorry I didn’t have at least one sister. Odds were it was gonna be Tyler, but he refused.

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  7. Its a pity we left behind/do not have the instincts of our genetic ancestors…. Play for the young is all about learning how to hunt, or gather food – there’s no “I’m better than you” in that. If one family/team member is good at it, then everyone eats.

    That being said I rather like sports. 😛 If you have an actual /team/ its awesome. I don’t watch them though – boring! (And sports led to a shattering of stereotypes in my high school years! Playing catch [football] with the guys, and I broke a nail. Naturally I got the whole “ooooooh, you broke a NAIL, are you gonna have to stop playing now? Wah wah!” My response: Mm, probably not…. I might need to go get a Band-Aid to keep it clean, though.”
    “Band-aid? Why would you need a band-aid?”
    “Well, I’m bleeding.”
    They all came over to have a look and even the TEACHER was horrified! They couldn’t even look at it, they were so grossed out. One of the best days I ever had in high school! ^^)

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    1. I am not a sports watcher. I am one of the most ignorant people I know when it comes to sports. However, I must address the “there is no ‘I’m better than you'” concept in early hunting. In most of the hunter-gatherer cultures that I have studied, there has been a high amount of honor given to the best hunters. The best hunters would often be looked upon to lead the rest of them and get more opportunities to hunt.

      It sounds like a direct parallel to the guys who always get picked first on the playground for a sports game and the football player person who has the most popular cheerleader girlfriend or something.

      I see a direct relation between early hunters, Ancient Roman gladiators, and modern sports. I don’t like it, but i see the connection.

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      1. Oh, I wouldn’t dispute that! I guess I didn’t make my train of thought clear. Sorry about that! I am an avid lover and studier of nature, so whenever I think about humans there’s always SOME minor comparison to animals floating around in the back of my head. The first I thought of for this subject was a wolf pack – the pups roughhouse and play, but they’re learning hunting skills while they do it. If one wolf is the one to bring down the kill, he’s not lauded for it – its just a fact, and now everyone gets to eat. Even when I extended that train of thought to chimpanzees, I have seen nature programs showing them sharing food they find with other members of their group. Its the closest analogy I could think of to “sports” in terms of the natural world (the young playing), and my observation/opinion stemmed from that. I definitely won’t dispute that early human hunters still made comparisons between one another.
        Sorry for the misunderstanding!

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