Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Sports Gives Me the Vapors!

Okay, we like hockey. A lot. It should be pretty apparent from the fact that we participate in this HLOG collaboration that we spend a pretty good chunk of our time every day watching hockey, thinking about hockey and writing about hockey. So how did we get saddled with such dedicated non-sports fans for friends? Why couldn't we have made friends with people who understand why we can't make plans between April and June, or who can tell a hockey stick from a baseball bat, or who, at the very least, have heard of Tom Brady. (That's not a joke. We had been erroneously operating under the assumption that Tom Brady was a household name; not in those households. [Shakes head sadly].) No, instead we had to make friends with that most puzzling creature: the girly girl. There's been plenty of discussion in this space about the uphill battle we face as female fans trying to be taken seriously by our male counterparts, but what about the flip side of the fangirl's experience? What about the disdain we get from the women we all know who seem to think it's a violation of set-in-stone cultural mores for a girl to like sports?

Here's the thing: we have a delightful group of very dear friends amongst whom everything is shared. We talk about the books we're reading, the movies we've seen, the ins-and-outs of our relationships, motherhood (on their parts), jobs... just about everything we deal with. No topic is too remote to be spared discussion, except one. Sports. The instant we bring up any anecdote that is even vaguely couched in sports terms -- any sports terms -- they shut us down with (and we're not making this up) exclamations of "I hate sports!" Discussion over. Next topic.

Our contention is that one does not lose a shread of femininity for watching sports. But the mere mention of sports -- even that most sympathetic, non-threatening darling that is Roger Federer -- causes our friends to recoil in horror, hands grasping for the make-up compacts to ward off the evil spirits of winning and losing. Years of being told they should focus their energies on traditional girl hobbies like reading, crafting and cooking (not that there is anything wrong with any of those hobbies; in fact, we frequently engage in all of them) seem to have rendered them incapable of understanding an enjoyment of sports. However, if you remove the various aspects of sports -- winning, losing, physical challenges, strategy, teamwork, individual achievement -- and couch them in terms of, oh say, a reality television program, they are immediately on board. It's like somehow the problem is, well, sweat. Take the sweat away, and they really don't mind. But why is it that we're expected to maintain a certain level of polite interest when they're telling us about the latest thing to happen on, say, "Veronica Mars", but it's considered socially acceptable for them to rudely dismiss us when we mention something that happened in our favorite TV show, "The Current New Jersey Devils Season"?

What is particularly troubling is that no amount of prodding can get them to admit what it is about sports they don't like. "Sports" is not a word that really describes one overriding concept that can be dismissed out of hand with one terse, "I don't like it." Don't like team sports? Watch tennis. Once had to sit through an endless baseball game and now you think sports are boring? Watch hockey or football. Is the sweat thing really a problem? Watch golf. Until they can convince us that they hate every aspect of every sport -- including the same competition they enjoy seeing on "The Amazing Race", the same drama they see in their award-winning movies (only more so since it's not scripted!), the same variety of loopy characters they love in the radio shows they listen to, the same intensity of plot they cherish in their classic books -- we are left with the conclusion that it is merely that sports aren't girly enough for them. And frankly, for the intelligent, funloving, modern women that they are, we find that narrow-mindedness unacceptable.

But, as we settle in for yet another night of the unpredictable, insanely intense NHL playoffs, we hope they enjoy their run-of-the-mill, scripted television shows in rerun -- and may their makeup look perfect while they do so. Let them spend the rest of their lives not knowing the joy of seeing their hockey team hoist the Cup, not knowing the artistry that is Roger Federer's backhand, not knowing that feeling of turning on a sporting event -- any sporting event -- just in time to see that amazing moment, that last-second upset, that hall-of-famer's signature play. It's their loss.

14 comments:

Jocelynn said...

I sympathize to some extent. I am fortunate enough to have friends that like hockey, but my best friend hates it. She'll ask me about it to be polite but then if I make a comment about football being too slow for me, she'll make a mean comment about hockey. And she doesn't even like football! I don't make fun of her anime and video games so she shouldn't make fun of me for the hockey.

Paige said...

Well, currently in Buffalo, nearly any crowd has a few Sabres fans. Lucky for me, I am living proof that the idea of 'girly girl' and 'sports chick' can co-exist in one human being. Unfortunatley, most of my friends are an either/or situation. So I have my few friends who call and talk for hours about a controversial goal, and others who would just love to chat about the new Chanel bag or Juicy Couture sunglasses. So, it works out pretty well for me.

KMS2 said...

While my other friends and I grew up playing sports we actually would never talk about sports...which I just realized...which now seems weird. I guess I'm just used to not talking to other female hockey/sports fans since I only have one female hockey fan friend. But I probably don't care because I also can't stand it when girls try to talk about sports and then say stupid shit like "SHOOT THE PUCK!!" (every single time someone touches the puck) or "So, wait, I can't remember, what's the red line?"

american oil said...

...oh...preach on sister....

..this weekend at a BBQ with friends I made a comment about "the bloody sock"....which the women all turned stared like I was insane and had the men in the crowd rolling with laughter....

....try having a 5 year old daughter who plays hockey and when I say plays hockey, I mean she lives and breathes the ice rink....people just look at me like am horrible that I let my daugher play hockey....

Objectionable Conduct said...

Yeah my friends who are sports fans HATE hockey with a passion. So I have friends to watch every other sport in the world with lol, but I'm pretty much alone on the hockey front...

Jordi said...

My friends are tolerant since it's no big topic, but I seem to have the habit of hitting that nerve. All my guy friends love Aussie football or basketball. One of my friend is awesome enough to humour me when I need it and he's a Dallas fan so it's awesome that way.

Either way, I guess I'm lucky to not let it bother me since I'm so far away from it all. Though I have a friend who is the epitome of the kind of working class woman with a disdain for sports. She knows Jane Austen like a bible and seems to find sports something for the mentally challenged.

But meh, that's why we're all here for!

Jordi said...

And Roger Federer has a face like a car crash. He deserves the heckling.

Femmefan said...

Ladies I feel your pain.
I am the ultimate NFL fan and went to a San Francisco 49ers 101 seminar, I invited my best friend to go with me. I knew full well that she was only interested in the "party" but what the hey, I needed someone to share the room cost with me.
I am the founder of www.Femmefan.com, and as such some folks know me.
As we arrived for the event a reporter and camerman came up and asked my friend if she was a football fan. She said "not really" and I'm not a 49er fan, my kids are all Raiders fans"
Then she was asked why she was there, she replied "to party"!
I could have died.
But we're still pals, and I'm still Femmefan, and still love my Niners.

leanne said...

Er. I guess I'm a bit of an anomaly since most of my close friends are guys...also my casual acquaintances, my drinking buddies and my co-workers..

Occupational hazard.

...though I'm lucky that all my friends realized I am who (and what) I am.

They understand the hockey, but I catch more flak from them for being captivated by just about any sport that gets airtime...

Was that a shiny object?

Sabrebull said...

I can sympathize with you. But my problem is I can't find anyone, except my husband who wants to talk pucks. Not even guys,I get ridiculed for liking a sport that is boring. These are the same guys who watch Nascar. Come on people, it is cars going in a circle. Are you kidding me?! I don't have any female friends who like sports. They will watch but they are not into sports. I like to analyze and stuff so i am pretty much alone in the female friends who like sports area.
Take care everyone.

hockeygirl said...

This is why we have HLOG, ladies. It is frustrating though to not be able to chill with my gal pals and chat about hockey. I'm lucky that Sherry and I have met up twice, both times with our conversations covering a wide range of topics but always coming back to hockey.

One of my best friends knows I love hockey and harasses me lovingly at every chance she can get. Sometimes it drives me bonkers but then when she says something about 'that Crosby kid' I realize that the game just might be reaching new fans and I am grateful for the opportunity to enlighten her about it, even if it is that Kid. :)

One of my other best friends tried striking up a compromise - if I gave up the Blue Jays and became a full-fledged Red Sox fan, she would in turn learn about hockey and become a Flames fan. I told her no way and stood my ground for long enough that she has seen the light, coming on her own to hockey while acknowledging that a rivalry amongst friends can be a good thing.

BTW, if I did give up my Jays for the Sox, my season standing wager would be moot, right KB? :D

Jordi said...

Then she was asked why she was there, she replied "to party"!

At that point I sort of expected white tshirts to be handed out and pitchers of ice water to pass around. Maybe that's just me :)

Interchangeable Parts said...

Indeed, it really is great to have HLOG! Thanks for giving us some sympathetic ears while we vented about this. It's nice to hear some varied experiences with the frustration of our friends who just don't understand us! (Oh, and femmefan, that "I'm here to party!" story is priceless)

Oh, and Jordi, don't make us start something here about Roger Federer!

Jordi said...

Oh if only there was a HLOG loophole so I could hear :). I actually opened a cooking magazine (what I do in my spare time not HLOGging and making pot roasts) to see his mug selling espresso machines.