Ask The Ladies…: Turning The Girlfriend Into A Sports Fan

Welcome to the first edition (of hopefully many) of “Ask the Ladies…” in which you, reader of our lovely little piece of the internet, ask us any question regarding sports or relationships or whatever strikes your fancy. It’s like “Dear Abby” only with multiple responses and more practical advice. If you would like to ask us a question just send hit the email link to the side and send us your question(s). If you want to remain anonymous please state so otherwise all names/nicknames/commenter names will be used.

Our first question comes from the comments of ChiTown Chick’s post last week on what’s it like being a female sports fan. From Rockabye:

I’m a sports fan. The girlfriend, amazing in pretty much every way but this one, is not.

How do I go about turning her into one?

Rockabye and the Mrs. 30 years from now. Maybe.

So how do you turn a non-sports loving female into one? Well, let’s ask the Ladies!

Miss Minda: I think it depends entirely on how much of an understanding the girlfriend has of sports right now. It would be really daunting to date a huge sports fan if she knows nothing about sports, so the easy response would be “I don’t like sports.” Just make sure she feels like she won’t be judged for not knowing all the rules, or asking basic questions. And on the off-chance that she already understands all the inner workings of various sports but still doesn’t like them…you’re pretty much SOL.

Metschick: It’s pretty simple. You’ve gotta make the game appealing to her. If she loves clothes, buy her cute tees for wearing to the game. If she’s curious, buy her a few books and answer her questions earnestly (that sometimes pissed me off – I’d ask a question, and get a snide reply. it made me just study the game harder. but it can definitely back-fire, and turn her off any sports.) Include her in the experience. And finally, accept it if she doesn’t want to be included. Sports aren’t for everyone, and if she’s tried and found it not to her liking, you gotta let it go.

ChiTown Chick: You have to put your ego aside, and let it be ok for her to gawk at guys. There are a lot of fine men playing sports, and you could always sell that angle. If you are confident in your manhood, it works.

Mistress Christina: I think (like men) women get into sports fandom in a lot of different ways. For me, it was always the cute athletes. It was like “ooh man-candy” and then I would learn about the sport and fall in love after that. It’s how I came to love NASCAR, basketball, tennis (and I’m working on learning about soccer, the hotties are worth the effort). It wouldn’t hurt to point out some of the players that maybe you have heard women find attractive. Like if your sport is hockey, maybe showing her some articles or a pic of Sidney Crosby would help get her involved. At least that way she can put a face to the name on the back of the jersey. That was (and still is) one of my pet peeves with hockey and football. I can hardly tell who is who. It can make the game hard to follow until you learn the positions and names of players. Also it would help to take her to some exciting games (if you can swing it). I really started to love basketball after going to some really awesome home games. The live, in-crowd madness can be very addicting. Plus, it’s actually a date like activity; you guys aren’t just sitting on your stinky futon in the living room, while you hog the remote and drink beers.

But you can’t take it personally if she never really converts. I have watched countless baseball games, know the positions and stats, have endlessly googled pictures of the good looking mens, but still I can’t really stand it. It just won’t click for me. And this might be the case for her.

La M. Alana: It’s important for her to understand the game. I spent most of my life having no idea what was happening in football, for example, and being intensely bored and distracted every time people watched it around me. But then a friend of mine sat down with me at a game and explained everything they were doing and why, and all of a sudden the game made sense to me. More to the point, I enjoyed it because I understood it, and now I love watching football. In that vein, a good sport to introduce her to would be basketball – much as I hate to imply that it’s the simplest sport, its rules are certainly the most intuitive, and it’s always exciting.

If basketball’s not her speed, take her to a baseball game and explain it as it goes. Show up around the third or fourth inning, if possible, so she won’t get bored and hot and want to leave early. Explain the game’s rules, as well as its players and their quirks. (Don’t worry about pointing out their attractiveness – she’ll notice their backsides and forearms on her own, trust me.) Not only will she understand the game better, she’ll get to drink beer, spend quality time with you, and get a tan on her legs. There’s nothing like a baseball game for hanging out and having time together. She’ll enjoy it more than watching you gesticulate at the television, that’s for sure, and enjoyment is the important first step on the road to fanhood.

Empress Act: Include her! A big crime of sports fans (myself included) is that we/they tend to get easily annoyed when non-sports fan intrude on their time with rudimentary questions and such. By going out of your way to include her, she definitely won’t resent sports, and answering questions without sounding condescending could spark her interest in it. The other thing that I say from experience is that she might see sports as something competing for her time with you. By making it into something you can both enjoy, she would probably be much more willing. Of course, some people just aren’t that into it, or aren’t that competitive… she may be like that. Don’t push it if she’s not… that could really backfire. Good luck.

Cinnamon Girl: Marry her and have boy babies. I’m not saying daughters can’t be into sports (I’m trying to teach my two girls right, and even at 5 and 7 they already know some stuff about sports), but nothing will help a mom stay connected with a teenage boy like a love of sports.

/admittedly perhaps a drastic move on your part.

SA: First off, your girl has to be willing to be a sports fan. She has to want it for herself. If that’s not the case then you can stop right here. Just because she’s not that into sports isn’t going to diminish your love for her (it better not). But if she wants to then the simplest thing I can tell you is to watch sports with her. Don’t start talking about rules and what Team A should do in this situation, etc. Just let her enjoy the game. She’ll eventually ask you about all those situations. When the time comes and she’s asking about the game do not, I repeat DO NOT, patronize her. It would be the same if you wanted to learn about something she loved. You wouldn’t want her to do that to you. If she needs some time to pick up things give her that time. If she picks up fast keep firing away.

And don’t ask her to be a fan of your teams or your favorite sports. If she wants to root for Chelsea or the Yankees or Georgia don’t complain about it. If she wants to follow baseball and golf and rugby let her. She has that right.

Dame of Extra Time: It’s simple: If you’ve tried to sway her and she’s shown absolutely no interest at all then it’s time to give it up. Sports aren’t for everyone and people can’t generally be persuaded into becoming fans if they show no initial interest.

However, you are talking to someone who consistently refuses to take they’re own advice on the matter so here are a list of things not to do. Taken directly from my own moronic sports-fan moments, of course:

A) Don’t say: “But someone might actually win the Stanley Cup tonight.” They don’t care. Really, they don’t. My sister once had the audacity to ask me why “they” were “doing this for a hunk of metal.”
B) Don’t say: “Sssssshhhh. Lemme hear!” And, whatever you do, don’t sigh straight after. They hate the “will you just freaking shut up, already!” sigh.
C) Don’t say: “Gawd! I just explained it you!” The offside rule is actually really confusing if you’re hearing it for the first time. Be patient.
D) Don’t say: “MOVE OUT OF THE WAYYYY!” or “STOP TOUCHING MEEE!” Again, no sighing.

Lady Andrea: First and foremost, she may just not be into sports. If she’s not, that’s okay. She doesn’t try to get you into Grey’s Anatomy or knitting or jai alai or whatever it is she does that you think is stupid. If she just doesn’t like sports that doesn’t mean she’s deficient or stupid or something. You can make your Sports Time be her Out with the Girls time or something. But don’t think less of your lady just because sports may not be her thing.

Second, don’t assume that just because football/basketball/baseball are not her things that other sports are not her things either. Maybe you have to start by bonding over the Olympics and work your way up. I’m not saying you have to start being able to identify the difference between an axel and a toe-loop, but don’t be so narrow-minded as to assume the Big 3 are the only sports that exist.

Third, you must be patient and kind when you explain the game(s). I know it sounds very 1 Corinthians 13 of me, but you can’t hope to get her into sports if you’re going to shout her down or make her feel stupid every time she has a question. In high school, I was the only person who would sit by my friend Kathleen at football games because she would never stop asking questions. I thought her curiosity and interest was good. Also, the first time I tried to score a game the boyfriend I was with at the game was impatient, rude and mean to me. I have never literally come so close to stabbing someone in the thigh with a pencil.

Fourth, start small in quantity but large in excitement. See if she wants to watch the first couple innings or just the first quarter, but get her excited about it by starting with a rivalry game or a play-off game so there’s a back story and more on the line. (Though do make it clear that since this is an important game, you are going to be watching the whole thing. Don’t want her feeling abandoned.)

Fifth, make her feel like you want her to be interested in sports. Don’t just turn on the game and hope she asks questions. Don’t start by inviting her to a night where you and a bunch of your hooligan friends watch a game and she gets ignored all night. Maybe start by having it be just the two of you. “Honey, there’s a good game on tonight that I want to watch and I’d really like it if we could watch together. I’ll grill some steaks and we’ll get a/some [her favorite beverage] and we could watch the game together.” Make her feel included.

Finally, it really cannot hurt to point out to her how hot professional athletes are. If you are too insecure to identify them yourself, send her our way. I’ll even confess, as a girl born n raised on sports, that part of the reason I got into hockey is because I discovered Marek Svatos. If it bothers you that she notices that certain athletes are attractive, then try to remember that the next time you make a comment about Scar Jo or she catches you eying that cute girl at the grocery store who is probably 17 years old, you perv.

So that’s our perspective. What say you dear reader? What should Rockabye do?

If you want to “Ask the Ladies…” email us at ladiesdotdotdot@gmail.com.

12 thoughts on “Ask The Ladies…: Turning The Girlfriend Into A Sports Fan

  1. great idea, ladies! i’ll definitely be writing in for some advice in the near future.
    so, this is a fitting post to comment on because as a girl who’s boyfriend got her (more) into sports in the last year, i have first hand advice as to what worked. 1). he was great about me asking dumb questions. i asked ridiculous questions like, “what are those measuring poles for on the football field? what the heck are they doing?”. his dad laughed at me… but my man didn’t, and then he kindly explained. you have to know that for someone that didn’t grow up with sports as something that was watched every weekend like most families did, some of the rules are bizarre and hard to understand. 2). he invited me to sporting events with him. now, i already loved going to baseball games, and i liked sports, but i didn’t have an understanding of the games or the teams or anything other than just what i had experienced as a kid(homer hankies!!). so going to my first nfl game was a total blast. albeit, it was the chiefs, and they of course lost, but what the heck. 3). two words- steve nash. good lord he’s beautiful, and the man had me read an article about him (in playboy- another stretch for me that i’ve now grown to look forward to in his mail. :)) in which i completely fell in love with him (him meaning steve nash. but it made me love the boyfriend too. :)) also, watching tim tebow play college football didn’t hurt.
    all in all, the point is if you’re nice and encouraging and spend the time to talk to your girlfriend about sports, even if in the end she doesn’t like them, she’ll at least be able to understand how much you love them and she’ll love that you took the time to care about including her.

  2. My sister once had the audacity to ask me why “they” were “doing this for a hunk of metal.”

    Holy shit. I hope you slapped her.

  3. Excellent question to start with Ladies…

    My wife was definitely not a sports fan when we met. Now that we’ve been together for 6+ years, she will critique Pete Carroll for not playing press coverage near the goal line. But, we’re different kinds of sports fans. She enjoys watching USC football, but doesn’t scour message boards for the latest rumors.

    I didn’t really “do” anything to help her transition, we just shared our lives and some of it stuck. She’s not nearly as hardcore as I am, but will watch her favorite teams virtually any time. She still prefers not to glue herself to the TV for a whole game like I do, so we compromise a lot. Unless its a game I really care about, sometimes I just watch the 2nd Half or record it and watch it later. I don’t think that makes her less of a sports fan, she just enjoys it a different way than I do.

    On the other hand, I now know far more about musical theatre than I ever expected, but it was something she loved so I learned about it and came to appreciate it. I’ll never be as hardcore as she is, but we have something else we can enjoy together which is really important. It goes both ways.

    My advice:

    1) let it happen organically- It may take, it may not, but let it develop naturally. This will be much better for your relationship.

    2) be accepting of her way to enjoy it- maybe she’ll want to throw a party with a bunch of girls or oogle the players (or both). Don’t expect her to be just like you.

    3) be a good teacher- a lot of the Ladies… mentioned this but answering questions joyfully is critical, even if its basic info “everyone should know”. She’s actually done this for me and fashion.

    4) portion control- having her watch a full Sunday of NFL football or the first 2 days of March Madness is not going to turn her into a fan. In fact, it’ll turn her off. Prioritize your favorite teams and important games and share those first. Plus, you earn bonus points for making her more important than sports.

  4. And after you slapped her you should have kindly explained, “No honey, they are doing it for the millions of dollars they make and hopefully sheer love of the game and winning and totally pwning their opponents and getting to say they are the best there is!”

  5. @CosmicAnna: Damn, your boyfriend sounds like a badass. Anyone who takes their girl to a Camarohead is cool in my book.

  6. considering that the first year of my blog was talking about me becoming a sports fan, i would like to think that i have a somewhat unique perspective.

    1. don’t be a dick about it.
    2. don’t be a dick about it.

    i repeat this because i was not a sports fan for most of my life because the guy in my life couldn’t not be a dick about it. no one could take five minutes of their oh-so-precious time and explain the super bowl, a college football game, the world cup, or any random baseball game on a thursday night. the heavy sighs, the agonized looks, your need to repeat to your friends at the bar (when she is there) that, omg, did you know that my gal didn’t understand the infield fly rule!

    don’t do it.

    3. make sure you know what the fuck you are talking about. if you don’t know the answer, don’t be an arrogant jerk and give her the wrong answer. say, “i don’t know, but i’ll find out,” and then GO DO THAT.

    4. if you really want her to enjoy and learn, then you have to be willing to answer as many questions as she has, as often as she has them, exactly when she has them, as many times as she needs to ask the same question. I am STILL struggling with the difference between a wild pitch and a passed ball, and only this year really understood what it meant for a pitcher to get the decision. you can put down your scorecard or the remote for five minutes if you really care about this woman and want her to share your enjoyment.

    5. understand that you can’t ‘convert’ your girlfriend into being a sports fan, just like you can’t ‘convert’ her into suddenly loving tom waits.

  7. You don’t like Tom Waits? :P (just like my love for sports, another thing I picked up from my dad!)

    I have to agree that the most critical thing is the answering of questions. My soph yr. in college I convinced my roommate to go w/me to the football game, but she would only go if I promised to explain everything. Sure, at first it was a bit annoying, but after a while it was fun. There is just something empowering in getting to share your large cache of sports knowledge w/someone who is actually interested. Of course I also pointed out the *ahem* visual *ahem* niceties of the tight little football pants and eye black. :)

  8. Yeah, hi, Ladies… um, first time reading here and I wanted to ask a question. My boo refuses to grill me a steak every time my favorite team the Cubs are on and she also refuses to buy a second home to stay at on odd nights of the week. How can I convince my skeeze to F off so I can get some other tang?

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