I’ve recently come to terms with something: I don’t like sports. This should have been obvious to me a long time ago — like, we’re talking in kindergarten when I quit my soccer team because I was never the goalie (or as I saw it, the person who just got to stand there and do nothing). The cool girls in elementary school were the girls who had friends that were boys. How did they get those super-masculine friends? By playing sports – or at least, by watching them from the sidelines. Me? I was too busy staging my own production of “Little Shop of Horrors” to notice, until everyone quit my show to play sports, that is. Because apparently, sports are fun! But they weren’t for me. I could name so many things that were more fun than having a ball thrown at your face. Like eating, for instance.
At a very young age, I learned that if I wanted to meet boys, or more specifically, if I wanted boys to like me, I had to like sports.Volleyball girls were totally rad, with their bumping and serving or whatever other sporty moves they did, cheerleaders knew all about football and got to wear those stylish skirts, and die-hard baseball fans always had home runs when it came to starting conversations with guys. I could run, but didn’t join the track team because it interfered with drama club.
Don’t get me wrong, as an adult, I like Super Bowl parties. I like the energy, the party vibe, the beer and the guacamole. I really like guacamole. I like jumping up and shouting “YEAH!” and I get excited when my home team is going far, but it’s the Jets, it’s really more about rooting for the underdog. But I don’t follow religiously, and I am that girl that will talk to a guy in the middle of a game about something that probably seems trivial to him, like my feelings or my period.
The only real relationship I ever had was with a guy who was more in love with the Yankees than anything else, except maybe video games. While I couldn’t get myself to even pretend to be interested in Zelda Edition Whatever, I sincerely attempted to learn about the Yankees. He made flashcards and would quiz me, which is just as didactic as it sounds. Mariano Rivera plays what position? And what’s his number? Did you study, Mallory?
And let’s not forget the guy I briefly dated whose idea of a good time was playing catch in the park. He threw the ball my way and since I can’t catch a ball to save my life (all of that time putting on plays at recess instead of playing dodgeball really caught up to me), I ran after it like I was a dog playing fetch. But hey, it was a dude giving me attention! Still, I didn’t like the feeling that was bubbling up inside of me as I ran after every missed throw.
I’ve gone on so many dates with men who have asked me if I like sports. “I like the culture of football, and I like eating and cheering for things,” I say (since that’s true). “But I don’t really get it, or care.” I can instantly see the guy’s interest wane over the period of the date. If only got it – the love of baseball! — I could potentially be “the one.” But I’m not because I don’t have a favorite player and because the idea of doing it during the seventh inning stretch doesn’t turn me on. Meanwhile, I like comedy, theater, the arts, and food, and yet, I haven’t had a single guy ask me about what Broadway shows he should see. What gives?
I’ll tell you what: this isn’t really about sports. It’s about me coming to terms with what interests me and what does not interest me. This isn’t about me being opposed to showing interest in a boyfriend’s hobbies — but first, show me a boyfriend who is mutually willing to learn about my interests, who wants to read a book I’ve read or listen to the same podcasts. I am not interested in pretending to be something I’m not for guys to like me, and maybe — just maybe – if I say, “No, I don’t like sports!” I’ll stop attracting men who want to quiz me on my baseball knowledge and rate my ability to catch a ball on a scale of one to 10. Instead, maybe I’ll start to attract men with similar interests or who at least aren’t so impassioned about something that doesn’t thrill me. If I’m honest with myself and what I like, then perhaps I’ll find a relationship that is equally honest and fulfilling.
So, no, I don’t like sports. But I’ll give them a shot for the first guy who agrees to go see the revival of “Pippin” with me.