Friday, August 17, 2007

Watching Sports With the Non-Fan, a.k.a. The Inevitable Sports Post #2

Watching sports is, for me, a completely exhausting and draining activity. I scream and yell, I throw my hat across the room, pick it up, and then throw it again; I hide my face in a couch pillow and jump up and stomp around my apartment in anger when things don't go as they should. The whole thing is very operatic (in a way) and probably explains why my neighbors frown at me when I see them in the hall. This is, of course, the only way to watch sports. If I weren't passionate, how could I justify the time I spend on it or the pleasure it brings?

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.


Anonymous said...

Waht are your thoughts about facial hair on sportsmen?

Josh said...

Certainly a fan-the more like this, the better:

Todd said...

Excellent advice, Josh. As a non-sports fan myself, there have been several times when I've been obliged to watch sports with you and you've always managed to make the experience of watching sweaty, uniformed men a semi-pleasurable activity.

Josh said...

Thanks Todd,

You were, of course, the inspiration for the entire piece. Consider it dedicated to you!

MDD said...

If I could propose another handy rule-of-thumb, it would be to also avoid any mention of fantasy sports.

As most non-fans already see one's team allegiances as an imaginary construct, the obsessional meta-fandom of fantasy sports will truly seem beyond the pale. Whether they spend their free time doing charity work, cross-stitching, learning a language, or staring blankly into space, they will look down on you for your shameful hobby.

And they would be correct.

Josh said...

I think you could actually amend that so it applied to all sports fans. There is nothing more boring, sports fan or not, than hearing somebody talk about their fantasy team.

Anonymous said...

I have questions about this blog and its proprietors. Where is the FAQ?

Josh said...


Any questions you have, of the frequently asked variety or otherwise, can be sent along to our email address at


ami said...

This is bullshit. I understood that this post was dedicated to me? Consider yourself minus 1 reader. I'll be exclusively reading Eric Alterman's delightful 'Altercations' blog from here on out.

Josh said...

Oh, crap! I didn't realize you'd read the comments! Please accept my humblest apology and considered it co-dedicated to you.

ami said...

Take that, "Todd"!

Anonymous said...

when do i get a post dedicated to me? this blog is totally slutty.