By Rich Santos
My beloved Baltimore Ravens improbable march through the NFL playoffs got me thinking about my strange sports obsession.
I was waking up with a spring in my step with each Raven victory.
Living in New York, I have to go to a bar to catch the Ravens games on TV. Last September, it started out with six of us-giving up half our Sunday and spending $40 just to watch the game.
More and more people began showing up to the games as the Ravens went deep into the playoffs. Where were these people when we were pulling our hair out and anxiously watching every waking second of the season?
Most of these newbies were girls, slithering out of the woodwork for the playoffs.
After the Ravens season ended with a loss to the hated Pittsburgh Steelers, I had a few text conversations that summed up our obsession:
A girl I have been hanging out with a bit texted me and asked what I was doing. I responded:
"I'm laying in bed, thinking about football."
She replied, flirtatiously:
"Hopefully, football is a code word for something else."
I wrote: "Sadly, it is not."
The next day, my friend-one of the originals who had suffered with me through thick and thin, texted me:
"Ugh. This is horrible. The Ravens are done. What are we supposed to do now? I was having nightmares about the game all night."
So sports are kind of important to guys. I have a number of reasons why:
Guys mix sports with their love lives. Everyone has heard of the 'base system" for kissing all the way up through sex. Guys will even mix sports with destiny. In my senior year of high school, I was watching a random baseball game and as a player came up to bat, I said to myself:"if he hits a homerun, I will lose my virginity this year." He hit a homerun...and I lost my virginity that year.
Sports teams allow us to exercise our civic pride. Sometimes dating comes down to simple biology: the thrill of the chase, for example. Rooting for our sports teams is the modern way of protecting and fighting for the town. I am happy any time the media has to say/write the words "Baltimore," or "Maryland".
It is our soap, or prime-time drama. My sister loves her Gossip Girl, and my mom used to love that Another World...actually so did I. There are lots of dramas within a football/baseball game, and there is drama throughout the season. He shot himself in the leg? The whole team took a cruise boat filled with strippers out on Lake Minnetonka?
Where there's sports, there's boobs, and beer. Blame the advertising companies...and the cheerleaders. When we go to watch the game there is plenty of talk about the cute girls on TV, or sometimes we just watch them in awe. All year we had the same waitress and hadintense debates on her boobs: real or fake? Sports, boobs, and beer (as Julie Andrews once put it) are "a few of our favorite things".
The solution to dealing with this strange obsession with sports lies on two ends of the spectrum.
One of my friends can't imagine bringing his girlfriend to these sports-watching days. She likes to do other things, and this works to give them natural separate "me-time" which adds plenty of independence to the relationship.
My friend's brother is a Steelers fan and his wife just gave him a room in the house to do all his "Steelers stuff". One of my friends brings his girlfriend to the games. It's not too difficult for her because she know most of us well, and once the games start I am too freaked out and nervous to even notice who is with us.
Another one of my friends said he could never date a girl that didn't watch sports. But it can't be contrived (slithering out of the woodwork when the team is doing well).
If you love a team, it's fun to have a playful rivalry. I think it's really cute if a girl graduated from Florida, for instance, and is really into the Gators.
So, there is no hard rule that women need to abide by when it comes to sports.
The most important thing is to allow us space for our stupid sports obsession.
Do any of you have sports-obsessed significant others? How do you fit this into your relationship in a positive way? Do you find that you are more attractive to guys if you happen to be into sports, or do you find that most guys want to keep you separate from their sports obsession? Do you think our sports obsessions are stupid?
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