Sports, Man

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About Cole Gamble

Cole Gamble's writings on the crimes of Willy Wonka, man-eating beds, and tales from his cringe-worthy life appear at Cracked, Babble, The Daily Beast, The New Yorker, Funny Crave, Mental Floss, The Huffington Post and Salon. Find him at his site, Fun with Cole and on Facebook.


  1. Oh Cole. How you’ve saddened me with this admission.

    I don’t trust guys who don’t like/can’t talk sports. Hell, I don’t really enjoy the company of women who know nothing about sports. That’s not fair and it’s not right. I’m close-minded in that regard. It’s the same thing with vegetarians (seriously—how can you not crave meat?!!?). But I can’t help it. It’s the truth.

    But having said that, I have more respect for the people who don’t like sports and stick to that dislike. Pretending to like sports, or arming yourself with just enough knowledge to make you look foolish, is an even worse transgression.

    And by the way, I’m not sure where you’re from but “Smear the Queer” was called “Muckle” in my neighborhood.

    • Hey I did say I like sports, and honestly, if sports talk were Spanish I have enough now to order drinks, get directions from strangers and ask my mugger to not point the gun at my groin.

      • I know, I’m just giving you shit.

        And I meant to add that, on the flip side, I’m not a fan of what I call “Statheads” either. The guys who feel the need to memorize ERA, batting average, RBIs, etc. It’s all too mechanical for me. Sure you can throw a few of those numbers in to bolster an argument, but my eyes glaze over when someone mentions VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) and starts spouting MoneyBall rhetoric.

        There’s a happy medium.

  2. I took a different approach to this problem. I take active pride in my sports ignorance and actively promote it. I figure that anyone who is put off by that probably won’t be my friend anyway. It’s a good social filter.

    So, yes, my friends all know that I thought the Dodgers still played in Brooklyn. Even the ones who weren’t there to hear that in person learned about it later when I told them. If you can’t laugh at yourself what can you laugh at? I find the whole thing amusing and don’t mind the teasing that comes with it.

  3. I dated a non-sports fan once. One of those guys who prided himself on not even owning a TV, much less a flat screen anything. Years ago, an NFC playoff game went into double overtime. Double overtime never happens. Double overtime and I was at freaking Barnes and Noble because they guy wanted to “get out of here and get some coffee.” Here being recognized as me sitting on his couch squinting at a non-antennaed, non-cable-ized 13″ screen he’d found in an upstairs closet.

    We, uh, weren’t a match.

  4. Conversely, do you know how hard it is to find a gentleman who can live without talking sports at least 3x per day? I hunted long for him, and once captured, have done my best to convince him not to run. Is hobbling still illegal?

  5. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    Hate it too. I practice and am into martial arts though. Track in high school, and can watch the Olympics. Hate it that women are now into sports, and couldn’t date one who was.

  6. Can we move on to a new social tradition now? says:

    I don’t like to watch or talk about sports. Know next to nothing about team sports, in particular. But for me, the most annoying aspect of sports is the “understanding” that as a guy in (American) society, you’re supposed to be well-versed in the topic. If you’re *not* well-versed in it, then you are viewed with disrespect if not downright ridicule. I’m also dismayed by the sheer earnestnes of guys’ sports conversations. Really? Once in awhile, sure. But all the time? How about putting that much energy and passion into learning about and fashioning your own opinion about world politics? Art? Environmental issues? Energy policy overhaul? Learning a new language? A reasoned approach to understanding the dynamics of a global economy? Your local zoning laws?

    At least, however, sports is still one notch above “reality t.v.” in terms of redeemable qualities.

  7. Would it make you feel better that at my school we generally called it “Kill the Guy with the Ball”? Frankly for years I thought queer was simply a reference to the game, hardly an exploration of bigotry; I suspect the homophobia/-eroticism is present only in the perception of adults who have other reasons to chase and pile on others. At least it was this way for me; I just wanted the damn football.

    Nevertheless, it’s essentially a game of reverse tag; instead of running away from whoever is “it”, everyone pursues him. So he tries to evade. (Frankly I’m surprised you don’t mention tag as an example of athletic ostracism – the slow are easily caught and may only tag someone with difficulty after a lengthy period of embarrassment. At least in Smear the Queer, the Queer chooses to be so, and may abdicate by simply dropping the ball.)

    The game makes sense from an evolutionary perspective: humans always were weaker and less dangerous than the prey they hunted. It took packs of humans to chase, tire, and bring down prey. At the same time, these prey animals were worshiped and feared for their strength and speed.

    So should it surprise you that young boys would want to ape adult behavior like this? To keep hold of the ball for as long as possible; to be swift enough to evade capture and strong enough to throw off the first few pursuers; to embody the qualities of what ancient humanity worshiped? They are not piling on the queer to cop a feel – they’re hunting him down. He is not grabbing the ball in order to get other boys to hop on top – he’s grabbing the ball to try to be swifter, stronger, more elusive than all the others.

    It’s also a good reason girls don’t participate in this game – they never (perhaps very rarely?) participated in the prehistoric hunt, either: their responsibilities lay elsewhere.

    I can understand why someone who knows plainly they are slower, weaker, more physically vulnerable wouldn’t want to join in – the game tests qualities they know they lack, and ignores other talents they may have in abundance. You were unable to succeed at the game, and you hate it. Is it possible that this is the reason you think the game is an exploration of bigotry fit only to train young boys to channel any feelings of homophilia towards violence?

    • An example of how the culture of school sports has had a negative impact in the lives of nonathletic boys. What a disgrace!


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