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Talk Sporty 101: Define your area of "expertise"


The pressure new sports fans put on themselves is immense. From thinking they need an answer to every question or believing they should know more facts or data, new and novice sports fans expect more of themselves than most fans do. 

It comes down to confidence.

Here’s what I mean, if you’re a long-time Seahawks fan who’s been busy at work the last couple days and haven’t had time to read about the latest roster move or read comments from Pete Carroll you don’t stop yourself from joining a football conversation and you don’t think you’re less of a fan. You think, and know, you’re a busy fan with more than your hobby vying for your attention.

New and novice fans, often lack the confidence to enter the conversation with that recognition and mindset. They more harshly judge their lack of knowledge or time spent on sports than anyone. And they don’t realize that all they need to do is define their area of expertise. 

This strategy goes hand-in-hand with the previous Talk Sporty 101 strategy of using “No, but…”

“Expertise” is a broad term that determines the topic, subject or scope that you feel comfortable talking about. For example, if someone is asking you about this year’s team compared to five years ago and you only became a fan this year, your “expertise” is this year’s team. If you grew up watching NBA games because your parents were basketball fans, but haven’t watched it in years, the years you watched the NBA become your area of “expertise.” If you only read the sports headlines but not the full story, the headlines are your “expertise.

Before we look at examples of what this sounds like, here is what most new and novice fans don’t realize:

  1. It’s not an admission of guilt.
  2. Every fan has an area of “expertise.”
  3. No one knows your “expertise” unless you tell them. 

So, let’s revisit a few of our examples from above:

Let’s say someone starts talking about how previous Seahawks defenses compare to this year’s defense. A perfectly acceptable response would be “You would know better than I would, I just started following the team this year.”

For the NBA example from above, you could say, “I grew up watching basketball because my entire family loved it, but now I’m more of a hockey fan.”

If you’re following the Talk Sporty 101 advice and reading headlines but get asked about something more in depth than what the headlines cover you can casually say, “I only had time to read the headlines today not the entire story.”

Here’s what you’re doing in each one of these examples, introducing a topic you’re willing (and ready to talk about), which gives an indication as to what the follow up questions should be, and continuing the conversation in a way that still allows for a productive exchange.

There’s nothing wrong with any of those responses. In fact, they’re all perfectly normal among sports fans. You just need the confidence to say the words and know what you’re willing to talk about. Sports fans rarely care about how much you know. They’re far more interested in what they know and how much they can share with you. So give yourself the benefit of the doubt and keep the conversation going by learning how to define your area of expertise.


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