The Redskins are playing the Broncos today, and Taj is excited. So I am, too.
I’m not much of a sports fan. As a child, I played music rather than football. And I was raised by a single mother with no brothers/sisters … So, sports never really caught on with me.
I suffer from a disease called “no-clue-about-sports-itis.” There are far more men out there who suffer from this disease than we care to acknowledge. But we are out there. For us, Monday mornings brings on a certain amount of anxiety, as returning to water cooler conversation is often difficult.
“What’s up, Darrick? How’d ya like the play in that Dallas game? I think they’re going to win it all.”
I squirm for a bit, because I don’t know what play he’s talking about. What’s worse is I don’t know what day Dallas played. I don’t know WHO they played. And, although I had a suspicion, I wasn’t 100% certain whether he was talking about the Cowboys, the Mavericks or the Stars. *Yes, my condition is so bad that I’m not always sure what sports SEASON it is.*
I have to make a split-second decision when confronted with this question … Do I particpate in a sports-related conversation, KNOWING I’ll be outed as a fraud once my lack of sports knowledge is exposed? Or, do I come clean up front and display my disease, maintaining my personal integrity and throwing myself on the pity of the sports fan? Usually, I come clean early … That makes the pain stop quickly.
I claim I’m too busy to follow the games.
“Uh, I don’t really watch sports like I used to. I lost touch when Taj was born, and never really picked it back up.” (I’m busy trying to be a good Dad … That’s worth some man points, right?)
Honesty is usually the easiest way to go. But sometimes, my no-clue-about-sports-itis is downright embarrassing, forcing me to do what I can to cover it up. Sometimes, a man is expected to participate in the manliest of manly rituals and talk about manly things men do when playing manly sports games.
For example, when I’m at a sporting event …
Taj LOVES sports; Muna and I do everything we can to make sure he doesn’t grow up with the same disease I have. We expose him to different types of sports and let him choose which ones he likes. He’s played basketball on teams, soccer and baseball. He’s currently playing football for his school. When we can, we take him to college/pro games.
But, when taking him to games, it’s inevitable that the sports-nuts Dads will strike up a conversation with me about the latest pro games. That’s when the pressure is on.
I try to hold my own, but the severity of my disease quickly presents itself. I usually sound like Eddie Murphy in Coming to America.
I can see the sports-nut’s disappointment as he learns about my disease. I feel as if they’re saying (in a domineering Arnold Schwarzenegger voice) : “How DARE you, little girly-man, attend a football game and have NO CLUE what’s going on! You ARE a little girly-man, aren’t you?”
But I don’t care … I’ll do whatever I can to encourage my son to participate in sports. Which is why I’m sporting a Broncos jersey today. (He’s rooting for them against the Redskins.)
Still, I have a favor to ask of sports-nuts everywhere … Can you not be such a @!$& about sports sometimes? It would make it easier for those of us with the disease.
I know it’s not everyone. I know a lot of sports nuts who are my friends, like David “Beastmode” Haigh, Terry Spain, and Richard Sargeant. They know about my affliction, but still welcome me into the brotherhood and allow me to keep my man card based on other areas of life in which I’m towing the line.
But, some of you take sports a little too seriously.
Some of you automatically assume that all men are into sports, and open conversations with sports talk without considering the possibility that the man you’re talking to might not give a $&!t. (To those of us with the disease, opening a conversation under the assumption of mutual sports knowledge is akin to opening up a conversation saying: “So, how about that Hindu God Shiva, eh? What do you think?”)
Some of you use the word “we” when talking about your favorite sports (as if you’re actually a playing member on the team.) “We won last week; all we have to do is keep our defense up and we should be able to win next week, too.”
Some of you don’t know how to watch a children’s game without yelling as if you’re in combat. (You had your chance in high school … Let your 4th grader have some fun now.)
Some of you need to Chill. The. #%@( out.
Some sports fans are so committed to their teams, it’s borderline criminal gang behavior … If you talk ill about their team, you’re talking bad about them, PERSONALLY.
While wearing this Bronco jersey today, I took our dog to the dog park. A man wearing a Redskins jersey entered the park with his dog, and I prepared my story about how I got my #19 Jerry Rice jersey without knowing that Rice retired before actually playing with the Broncos. (No WONDER it was on sale!) With the game between the Broncos and Redskins to take place later on today (the Broncos won, by the way) I figured I’d initiate the ritual sports conversation as our dogs played together.
I said “Hey,” to the Redskins fan and threw him a smile. The dude returned a smirk, coupled with a hard look at my jersey, and did not speak to me.
Maybe he knew I was suffering from the disease. (Maybe he was also suffering himself.) But, if he is just a “devoted” Redskins fan, he’s the type of sports nut making it difficult for us sufferers.
It’s not that serious. Really. It’s just sports.
Still, I know that my disease is my fault, and no one else’s. I take full responsibility for my lack of sports knowledge. So, I’ll do my best to bone up on sports, if for no other reason than to share in conversation with my son. (There’s nothing more disappointing for a father than when a son realizes he knows more than his dad.)
Dear sports fans:
Let’s make a deal. I learn more about sports. And you extreme sports nuts, could you chill out?