I resisted the urge to say what I really wanted to say after being confronted by a non-sports fan a few weeks ago. Not only was he not a sports fan, but was clearly and vocally irritated at those of us in the bar watching and cheering during a recent college football game.
“You know they can’t hear you, right? There’s no need to yell. Did you even go to that school that you’re cheering for?”
Instead of pointing out he was in a bar with multiple TVs intended for sports viewing, I turned said, “Actually, our friend right there did go to Stanford and we’re cheering for his alma mater.” There was more muttering and passive aggressive comments about how dumb sports fans are, but few heard what he was saying because we were cheering too loud at the big comeback.
There are a couple things I want to point out from this exchange, starting with the fact it was a guy who was opposed to sports, sports fandom, cheering for sports and sports talk. (He probably could have chosen a better bar or at least a better seat in the bar to take him away from the action, but that’s beside the point.) The point is this – not all men are sports fans. Don’t judge a sports fan based on stereotypes you believe to be true.
The second thing I want to reiterate is that sports fandom does not require you to have a direct tie to the team. You don’t have to be a graduate of the school or have grown up in the same town as the professional team you cheer for. You can be a fan of whatever team, whichever player and for whatever reasons you want. Your fandom your reasons.
In fact, I’ve outlined what that fandom looks like and how to approach conversations with different types of fans. I've also shared Talk Sporty 101 videos with tips for becoming a fan and engaging with sports fans.
Maybe these descriptions will help you make sense of the people in your friend group and the fans you encounter at sports bars. Finding a way to connect is as much about finding common ground, practicing empathy and being a good conversationalist as anything else.