“What’s Your Team?” Most guys have an answer for this question. Pat Brothwell doesn’t.
It’s the question that starts many friendships and alliances. It’s a way to bond with co-workers, ingratiate yourself with a date and often times the easiest go-to conversation with people you have nothing in common with when the weather just isn’t all the exciting. It’s practically a hallmark of being a guy. “What’s your team?”
I’ve never had an answer to that question.
I don’t really follow any professional sports. I don’t follow any college teams either. There’s not even any minor league or obscure team I can get behind and the thing is I don’t think there’s an overly complicated explanation for any of it.
The main thing I want to get out of the way before I continue is that I don’t dislike sports. This is not going to be a piece on how gross and overly macho and cult-like sports fandom can become. I don’t think any of those things. I grew up with a dad and uncle who were sports fanatics. Most of my friends, guys and girls, spend fall watching football and become consumed with March Madness and take trips to see the Yankees every summer. I understand what drives people to have a team they follow devotedly and have the competitive spirit inside of me which doesn’t make me think that their anger following a loss is irrational.
It’s not even that I don’t dislike sports but rather that I actively enjoy them. I played soccer from third grade through senior year of high school. In college I actively participated in intramural volleyball (ok, that’s sort of a lie, I skipped a lot to go to the bar)and roadtripped to State College several times to tailgate Penn State games. I’ve been to college football games, major league baseball games, the National Collegiate Rugby championship and professional hockey and play tennis whenever I could find people who know how to play (sidenote: why don’t more people know how to play tennis?). I can appreciate good athletics and know the rules and regulations that any sports guy should.
I’d go as far to say that I’m even built like an athlete which I think further exacerbates people’s confusion when they ask me about last night’s great play or what team I love and I have to awkwardly explain that I just don’t follow any sports with regularity.
I honestly can’t say the reason. It just never had an appeal for me; different strokes for different folks right? And I’m not going to say that it’s been detrimental and that I feel all weird and bothered by it. It’s just a fact and interesting because by all accounts I’m the kind of guy who really should like this stuff and I just don’t.
It used to bother me. I always tried to actualize what was happening. I used to tell people that I never followed one team because when I was younger my dad bet a lot. Because he bet on games so often I never formed a strong allegiance to any team and rather rooted for whatever team would let him win big because inevitably the money would trickle down. Now this is partially true. My dad does enjoy a good bet and if he did win big it did often meant going out for dinner, but nothing more than that. He always watched a lot of sports and encouraged me to do so. I just wasn’t interested and while I could make myself watch a few games here or there I’ll just never have a time I become die hard for. I won’t scour the paper for statistics and won’t spend the mornings getting ready with Sports Center on in the background.
I feel it’s similar to my tastebuds. I kind of want to like wine. A lot of my friends have recently gotten into it and there’s all sorts of wine festivals and trips that I know I’d have a blast on. I don’t hate wine. Wine doesn’t make me instantly vomit or cause me to be sick. I’ll drink at toasts and have a glass if there’s nothing else around but I don’t think it’s ever going to be something I actively get excited about.
I’m more comfortable now when people ask about the game or the team. I realize that it will always make it uncomfortable for some other people, because ya know only weirdos don’t like sports and all, but am luckily at an age where I’ve started to care less. I do understand the confusion and sometimes it’s frustrating because I feel that some people dismiss me as not wanting to play a pick up game or go on a hiking trip because “I don’t like sports” which is far from the case. Now I just explain that watching sports doesn’t appeal to me 8 out of 10 times and don’t even mind acknowledging what a conundrum it is, because it is.
photo by DrabikPany / flickr