I admit it! I don’t like playing sports, I don’t like watching sports and I have absolutely no interest in talking about sports. Not baseball, basketball, football, hockey, golf, tennis, boxing, you name it – I could care less about it. I have been teased, left out and treated like there’s something wrong with me my entire life just because I lack any interest in all things athletic. Am I really that big of a freak? Is it possible that I’m the only (straight) guy out there who feels this way?
I’ve always been like this and I’m not exactly sure why. My father was an avid sports fan and tried to raise me to share his interests, but I was a great disappointment to him in this area. Most of my friends have been sports fans and I have played my share of sports over the years in vain attempts to find one I might actually like. But there have only been three sports I ever enjoyed playing (and they barely qualify as “sports”). They are pool, poker and ping pong. What do all of them have in common? They are all indoor sports, they require little to no exertion, they are not typically played in teams and they all begin with the letter “P.” (What that has to do with anything, I have no idea. But it is interesting to note.)
Maybe I never liked any other sports because I was never good at them. When I was a kid, I was taller than most my age. So when it came time to choose sides for a pick-up basketball game, I was one of the first ones chosen. But once my teammates saw how badly I played, they quickly regretted that decision. Eventually, they’d just tell me to stand under the basket and grab rebounds. (Which I also wasn’t any good at.) After a while, word got around the neighborhood and I was the last kid to be picked for any team. (Which was humiliating.) To this day, whenever I see a really tall teenage boy, I think to myself, “I hope he’s good at basketball.”
Maybe it’s because I’m inherently lazy, I don’t like to spend a lot of time in the sun and I don’t enjoy sweating. When my parents forced me to join a Little League Baseball Team, I chose to play the catcher’s position because I knew this meant I’d have to run around less than everybody else. And it worked, too. I never had to walk farther than between the dugout and home plate because I wasn’t good enough to get a hit and have to run to first base.
Maybe it’s because I’ve never been much of a joiner and the concept of “team spirit” is lost on me. Just because that’s the school you go to or that’s the town you come from, does that really mean that’s the team you have to root for? Aren’t there other teams more worthy of your fandom? What happens to these fans when they move to another school or another town? Can they stay loyal to their old team? Do they feel pressure to root for their new team? Are they conflicted because now they feel forced to choose between these two teams when there might be dozens of other teams they could like even more based on merit rather than proximity? It all seems rather arbitrary to me.
Even some of my friends, who are die-hard sports fans, have to admit that professional sports has lost a lot of its luster and legitimacy. Between the cheating scandals, the crippling injuries and the rampant doping that are now prevalent in almost every sport, I sometimes wonder how anyone is still a fan. College basketball players and professional cheerleaders are exploited for profit and have to fight powerful organizations for fair treatment. You could fill a book with the stories of male athletes who have physically abused women, along with male and female athletes who have been sexually abused by doctors and coaches. Professional sports has become a cesspool of corruption, abuse and tragedy. Yet, as a country full of spectators, we have chosen not to call “Foul!” for far too long.
And don’t even talk to me about people who like to talk sports. They go on about games I haven’t seen and players I never heard of, citing statistics that make me feel like I missed a whole semester of math class. Believe it or not, I had no idea which teams were playing in the Super Bowl or the World Series this year until they were over. (And even now I couldn’t tell you who won.) When I find myself with a group of guys who go down the rabbit hole of sports conversations, I feel like I’m in a foreign country where I don’t speak or want to learn the language.
Being a guy who doesn’t like sports is like being a woman who doesn’t like wearing make-up or dresses. There’s nothing openly wrong about it, but people tend to look at you differently because these are characteristics that are generally attributed to the opposite sex. It wouldn’t be so bad if I were gay. People expect gay men not to like watching sports (other than to ogle muscular men in uniforms). Just like they expect women not to be big fans (other than female dominated sports like gymnastics and skating). Actually, I’m always a little suspicious of women who claim to be fanatical about baseball or football or other predominantly male sports. We see them at these events and at bars watching games where they can cheer and bond with men, but how often do you think they gather with their girlfriends to watch a game?
The truth is, I’d rather take a nap than compete in a sport. I’d rather see a Broadway musical than attend a play-off game. And I’d rather listen to my wife tell me all about the dream she had last night than listen to guys talk about sports.
So I admit it, I’m a guy who isn’t into sports and I’m proud of it. I feel much better coming out to all of you now. I’m here. I don’t drink beer. Get used to it!