September 4, 2009

Eleven Rules for Talking About Sports in Larger Groups

Be it dog catcher Michael Vick being allowed to play football, poker being on sports TV five times a day, or MMA achieving Monster Truck status with audiences, the berth of what constitutes sport talk has widened. And so, I present a public service for those at the beginner-intermediate-“expert” levels of sports conversation. Even if you don’t talk about sports, one of these tips may save your (social) life one day and make you look exceedingly well-rounded as though you were of common the people.

The Eleven Rules

1. Pick your Spots: If you’re the only one in a gathering who wants to talk about sports, don’t push the issue. Now’s not the time or place. Save it for next time you’re with an uncle or stuck with your girlfriend’s friend’s boyfriend who you’ve never met but find yourself at a table with while the girls have gone to the bathroom.

2. Take the road less traveled and make all the difference: One person should always take the least popular opinion on any sport debate. Possible POVs to try include women’s sports are not as interesting as men’s, North Americans who play soccer are douchebags, and baseball is awesome.

3. The Tom Brady Effect: Man crushes are allowed and cannot be judged under any circumstances. Who is anyone to get in the way of true love?

Figure 1. Take that David Beckham

4. The events in sports movies are fair game for discussion and can be argued with the fervor of actual sporting events: Ivan Drago really did kill Apollo Creed in Rocky IV, Kadeem Hardisson’s ghost really did help Marlon Wayans in The Sixth Man and there really were Angels in the Outfield helping Matthew McConaughey catch fly balls. [For less obscure references, please comment below.]

5. Yelling doesn’t mean you’re mad. It means you’re possibly wrong (see: Leafs fans, Italian soccer fans, those who earnestly follow Alpine Skiing).

6. Professional Wrestling is a sport. This became true in 1987 when Hogan body slammed Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III. When engaged in a wrestling conversation, excessive name-dropping is recommended for nostalgic purposes. What conversation isn’t improved upon by reminding everyone at the table of the existence of "The Natural" Butch Reed?

Figure 2. Does putting quotes around "The Natural" undercut how natural you are?

7. Telling friends about your Fantasy Sports teams is acceptable. Telling friends about your fantasy sex scenarios is not …unless you’re on a camping trip in which case, go ahead [Addendum: Camping trips are no place to talk about fantasy sports]

8. There’s no I in Team: Try to include everyone in the conversation, but don’t reach for it. If there’s someone who doesn’t like sports in the group, let them go: they’ll catch up during the next conversation topic. Though consider how strong your friendship is if you always seem to be talking about sports and they don't. Oh, and for ye who don’t like sports…

9. There’s no U in Team: If you don’t like sports and a sports conversation breaks out, you have two options. 1. Silence and 2. Steer the topic to your own field of knowledge for momentary cul de sacs (examples: A-Rod’s play at third base → A-Rod getting to third base with Kate Hudson; Michael Vick’s right to play → animal rights; O.J. Simpson savagely murdering people → O.J. Simpson comedically murdering audiences in the Naked Gun movies). However, under no condition can you chastise sports conversations as stupid or pointless: not every conversation is Douglas-Lincoln and not every one is Nelson Mandela (who by the way, used World Cup Rugby to unite South Africa shortly after apartheid ended - holla bitches!).

10. With the exception of wrestling, spewing sport history, stats or award winners do not make a conversation: no one likes a show off. Learn the art of gentle history dropping and don’t submarine people with wikipedia entries as though you were some kind of 5x AL Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Dan Quisenberry

Figure 3. It is really hard to throw underhand and look cool. Dan Q could do it.

11. The Tennis Rule: Tennis is the least interesting professional sport getting regular television coverage that a group can discuss. If, after observing the above points, you find the conversation has found its way to tennis, do your friends in #8 a favour and change the topic to movies or sex, but never weather or politics, and only in certain climes, fantasy sex scenarios.

Now scroll back up to Figure 1...your man crush is safe here. Your man crush is safe here.


Mark Fidrych said...

Wait, McConaughey was in that movie?

What a cast. J-GL, Danny Glover, Tiny Dancer, Doc, and McConaughey.

David Brock said...

It was a very early movie, yes.

And thanks, Bird, for when I click your link, a pornography site is revealed. How dare you link Mark Fidrych's name with free streaming wank sites.

Tim said...

I gotta disagree with Rule #3. This isn't watching TV, where having a crush on John Stamos is acceptable, David. This is sports, where you're supposed to bury all of your possibly homosexual attributes underneath layers of bluster and bravado.

Benjamin said...

Obscure sports that don't work:
- Short-track speed skating
- Professional Triathalon
- Sailing

I think if I was at a dinner party and someone was like, "Oh man, have you guys been watching the Short-track World Championships in Bern?" I'd politely excuse myself.

You can always find Canadians in a group by raising the subject of curling.