Although I think that most sports fans intuitively believe that they should keep themselves a little more in check around non-fans, I actually find the opposite to be true. If anything, they should crank up their energy a little.
Case in point: Possibly my greatest moment as a Detroit Tigers fan was when the team won the American League pennant last year on a walk-off home run by Magglio Ordonez and his ridiculous, Sampson-like locks.
It was a dramatic moment by any measure, and I watched it with two women that, while not anti-sports, certainly weren't sitting around talking baseball. Still, it was a fun exciting moment for all of us, and I think it only helped that I was in near-hysterics for the entirety of the 3-hour game. When the big home run was hit, all three of us jumped up and yelled and high-fived as if we had been watching baseball games together for years.
Here are some rules for watching sports with non-fans that I have learned from many years of practice. Follow these and you can save yourself and others a lot of grief:
- Keep the negativity to a minimum. Non-fans haven't spent years building up resentments about back-up point guards (I'm looking at you, Lindsay Hunter) or quarterbacks (any Lions quarterback, ever) and thus generally get a little annoyed when you scream obscenities at someone that they've never heard of and that they know you've most likely haven't met. If you're got to be negative, at least try to keep it funny.
- Make sure that beer/liquor is involved. Most of my friends will do just about anything if beer or liquor is involved, including watching sports. As long as the drinks are flowing, people are going to be telling stories and talking and laughing and making fun of one another-a good environment regardless of what's on TV.
- Avoid trying to explain what's going on in anything but the most basic terms. Nothing makes a non-sports fan cringe more than someone trying to explain (in an unintentionally condescending tone) the importance of a player having a high on-base percentage or why the left tackle is such a crucial position in football. They don't care and are certainly not willing to commit valuable brain cells to keeping it in their head. If they ask you a question, answer it quickly and efficiently-don't get too carried away.
- Don't talk about statistics, numbers, or percentages. They don't care. At all. If they cared about it, they would already be a sports fan.
- Don't try to make someone into a fan. It's a nearly impossibly task to accomplish, and just not worth the trouble. Any city in America is already full of too many sports fans to begin with-if you just can't bear to watch sports without some serious fans, wait a little longer and you'll inevitable meet them.