I’ve been watching professional sports since I was a kid. By watching professional sports, I mean watching my dad and other male figures—uncles, close guy friends, my boyfriend—watch professional sports. When I look at the television screen, I see men run around fields, courts, and rinks with enthusiasm and minimal sense. It’s always been minimal sense to me, anyway. Plenty people understand sports. To those people, sports make perfect sense.
I, however, found out just a few years ago that to understand what’s happening in a football game, you watch the ball. Many men and a handful of women have tried to teach me the ins and outs of spectator sports. My father took my sister and I to hundreds (hundreds!) of arena sports games as kids. My college football player friends tried to break down plays for me when we watched games. My father even drew a diagram once, actually, but to no avail—none of it stuck to the sides.
Still clueless at age 23, here is the thought pattern of every non-sporty girl as she watches (or attempts to watch) professional sports with her boyfriend. I told my boyfriend I was writing this and he was almost sure I would show him in a bad light—don’t worry, sweetie, I’m only making myself look like an idiot.
- Oh, he just put his jersey on. Does this mean his team is playing?
- Guess his team is playing. At least I know what sport this is. (Note: today, it’s European football/”soccer.” Any previous mention of football was about American football, which even I know is totally different.)
- At least he looks cute in his jersey.
- What’s going on? Why is he yelling?
- This looks to me like men are just running around after one another. Is something important happening?
- Something important must be happening. He’s yelling again.
- These guys are all super attractive. I’m feeling some things. Is this what it’s like for guys to watch the Lingerie Bowl?
- No, it’s not, because they probably understand what’s happening.
- I should try to understand this. Give it a shot, you know?
- Why is he yelling? I should just ask him why he’s yelling.
- Okay, asked him. Now he’s explaining. I’m trying to understand but it all seems very foreign to me.
- I tripped over a soccer ball once in gym class. Yup, nearly cried.
- That one guy just fell. Sorry bud…I know how that feels.
- Can I ask him to explain it again? Is he going to hate me?
- He might hate me. Maybe I’ll just pretend I get it.
- Eyes are on the screen. I see, but I do not understand. This must be what illiteracy is like. How depressing.
- Boyfriend is cheering. I saw the ball go into a goal. Must’ve been his team’s ball. Woo, context clues!
- How long do these things last? (Note: I asked. 90 minutes plus stoppage time. Do I have to watch the whole thing?)
- Does this even count as watching?
- Nice! I used a real term! I learned something! ~stoppage time~
- He’s watching this very intently. I feel as though I am observing him in his natural habitat. Boyfriend jungle.
- If I could just…maybe…crawl inside of his brain…I might get it…one day.
- Your brain on sports: probably a lot more involved and understanding than my brain on sports.
- I give up. For now. I’ll try to learn again next time. These games happen kind of often, right?
- Maybe they have classes for people like me…
- Maybe I can just write an enumerated article about this.
Needless to say, I don’t remember much of the actual game.