In the days when Sporcle quizzes were all the rage, I used to frantically play 2 quizzes: NFL and NBA teams. Why? Well English is my second language, but after going through all the hard work of becoming fluent, I felt so jipped because sports seemed to be a whole different language I didn’t understand. So I tried to learn sports the same way I had learned English – brute memorization. But I quickly realized that just knowing team names wasn’t enough, and I gave up on ever getting off the bench during sports convos, relegating myself to the sidelines.
If you don’t come from a sports city, didn’t spend your Thanksgivings watching football with the fam, or aren’t from the U.S., it’s pretty difficult to get into it – much less hold your own in a conversation. But we don’t think that’s anything to be ashamed of, and it certainly shouldn’t hold you back. Skirt The Sideline will give you the stories, tips, and conversation starters to bring you from the sidelines into the game.
“If sports conversation was a monetary instrument, it would be as liquid as cash.”
So why not cash in?
But you might ask, why should I or other women have to conform to sports talk? Well, as much as I would love for us to live in a world where a gender neutral topic is as ubiquitous as sports, we aren’t there yet. And don’t think of it as conforming, it’s just adding another tool to your toolkit. We could try to steer the conversation towards gender neutral topics, giving sports less airtime.
But you can’t restrict something so integral to American culture. If sports conversation was a monetary instrument, it would be as liquid as cash. It is one of the few topics where you can strike up a conversation with almost anyone, and get to know them personally – especially with some playful banter. So why not cash in?
“For the longest time, I thought I was fine without sports”
For the longest time, I thought I was fine without sports, and maybe you feel the same. I even started taking pride in telling people, “I’m not a sports person”, giving off a hint of judginess like I had better things to do with my time (good thing they didn’t see my Sporcle browsing history). Then, I started dating a sports fanatic. He told me these story lines about players, and we’d talk about our home teams. Slowly I started building the courage to talk about sports with coworkers, friends, and even strangers. And that’s when I got a taste of what what I’ve been missing out on this whole time.
“Being fluent in sports has opened the door for serendipitous connections…”
Empowered, confident, and connected
When I traveled from city to city as a consultant, I initially had trouble relating to clients if I didn’t know city and local news. With sports, I could chat up clients in Charlotte, because I knew about the (then) Bobcats, now Hornets. When I interned in San Francisco, I made friends in the office by being the one to call out all the Warriors bandwagon fans (which was as easy as catching pokemon in Dolores Park). When I went to business school, I got to know group of great guys (and 2 gals) I might not have gotten to know otherwise, all because I was in their fantasy league. Being fluent in sports has opened the door for serendipitous connections and more importantly, made me feel empowered, confident, and connected. Skirt The Sideline wants to help more people feel that way by removing the sports barrier.
“…and more importantly, made me feel empowered, confident, and connected”
And maybe you think I reaped more benefits because I worked in male dominated fields. Truth, but I’ve sat on the sidelines of conversations for so long, and it wasn’t just at work. At parties, all I could do was laugh and eat all the chips and guacamole because I didn’t have any sports comments to contribute.
Sports comes up with before client meetings, at super bowl parties, and at weddings when you happen to sit with a table of Minnesotans. You could even find yourself dating a sports fan. It’s all about building relationships. If you’re willing to give sports a try (and drink the proverbial Gatorade), we are here to help cheer you on.
What can you expect?
Skirt The Sideline is starting by focusing on football as the season kicks off. Also, the next Super Bowl will be in H-town – which we took as a sign that we should start this blog. Don’t worry – the content and credibility doesn’t come from me, I’ll be tapping real sports fanatics (aka boyfriend) and experts, to bring you everything you need to know. We’ll use a blend of Facebook Live and written posts to keep you engaged.
I always get the question, “but what if I start a sports convo but I don’t know enough to finish it?” This is the best part of what I’ve learned after dipping my toe into sports, most people don’t know that much about sports either – they just have strong opinions and/or loyalties. In fact, the small tidbits that my boyfriend told me have been enough to build relationships and even helped me win my first fantasy league. We’ll give you the tools to join the ~75 million Americans who play fantasy football, which btw is a $4.6 billion market.
I took the Sporcle quizzes again after writing this post, and I didn’t beat the clock, but I can safely say that I’m done watching from the sidelines as it counts down.