Ok, maybe that is a tad strong, but that is the general sentiment I've had for most of my life. And though I've never been particularly good at sports, that isn't the reason I felt this way. Which makes sense, because I'm sure there are millions of men who are not particularly good at sports who are, nonetheless, rabid sports fanatics.
No, for me, what I have always hated is watching sports, and not so much that, but the huge emphasis placed on sports starting from a very young age. I hated seeing so much time and effort put into sports and sporting events, making small celebrities out of the athletes while at the same time, those who were in school for the actual purpose of school - to be educated, were sidelined. I hated seeing all those letter jackets for the sports people when there were no equivalent letter jackets for scholastic achievement or even for those who excelled on the debate team or other intellectual teams for the school. (And again, this isn't because I wanted such recognition - I was never on any of the scholastic teams.) It seemed to me to be sending the wrong message - a focus on the wrong priority. You are told to do well in school, but then those who do so are ignored and sidelined as nerds while those who do poorly but can throw a ball are heroes.
Now, this has probably handicapped me for life socially, because apparently all men are supposed to be able to relate to each other through talking about sports. But I have no interest in sports and know nothing about any teams or players and never watch any games. This might be perhaps why I don't make many male friends, at least, fewer than average. And why with women friends I have I never seem to connect much with their husbands or boyfriends. I don't know the code words, I don't seem to have anything in common - and if there is something in common buried beneath the surface - well, men aren't generally very good at finding such things, which is probably why the default topic between men who don't know each other well is sports.
I remember going on an interview for a summer associate position with a large, prestigious firm when I was in law school. I had made it through round one, but then came round two with a parade of lawyers asking me things, and then the interview lunch with several of the younger associates. The whole topic through lunch was sports and I had nothing to say. They did bring up something about another season of "Survivor" coming on, and that, at least, I was familiar with -I like that show. But all I got in response to mentioning that was a dismissive disdain for it as now no longer being "novel" so not worth watching. Only later did I realize that such a statement was ridiculous from people talking only about sports - sports are no different than survivor. All sports are reality TV, playing the same game over and over. That's all Survivor is. It is just a game of intellectual skill and manipulation, not athletics (though athletics obviously play a role). In any case, I knew after that lunch I would probably not get the position, and I didn't. If I were a woman and a feminist, I might blame the ever elusive, mythical "patriarchy" that allegedly controls all. But I am a man. I can't say for sure that was the reason I did not get the position, but I'm sure it certainly played a role. And it had nothing to do with gender.
If I were nakedly ambitious, I might just fake it, learn about sports, force myself to pay attention to it, and then talk about it in such situations, but I'm not very good at faking interest in something. I've also since determined that I'd probably never want to work for a large firm anyway, though it isn't just large firms where sports interest would be useful. Hopefully it won't handicap me too much in my profession in the future.
Now if anyone wants to talk about gaming (Dungeons and Dragons!), or politics, or religion - well, I can get into all sorts of trouble there, but I won't have to fake any interest.
UPDATE: One thing I forgot to mention was where my lack of interest in sports originated. I think it is basically because my dad seems to have no interest in sports. Which just goes to show you that alot of what we are is shaped by our environment. My mother, on the other hand, is a rabid College Basketball and Football fan - but only for her school. And so, not too unsurprisingly, my sister is also much more interested in sports, and she was the jock in the family. She taught Physical Education in high school and she's a black belt in Tai Quon Do. As you might imagine, this also gave me a different perspective on men and women growing up, one that took years for me to figure out wasn't the general case. I will probably post about my different perspective at another time.
1 year ago