For most of my adult life, I’ve been surrounded by men. As a college undergrad in a film production program, my campus was overrun by hundreds of movie geeks. I say this with love. Think slightly emaciated and/or slightly stout dudes in their favorite movie quote T-shirt milling around, arguing Coppola versus Hitchcock versus Kurosawa versus Kubrick… They were sweet guys.
While getting my MA, I worked at a traffic-engineering firm where I was the only female in the entire joint. It’s an odd feeling when a guy makes some stupid sexist comment, sees the irritated look on your face, and then says, “Sorry, I forgot you’re a girl.” Thank you? Once grad school was over, I then got a job at a motion graphics company where the guy to girl ratio was about 3:1. The sexist comments continued, but by then I rarely could muster the energy to care.
Why does any of this matter? Because since I was a little girl, I’ve been a sports fan. Why shouldn’t I be? I grew up in one of the best sports towns in the world. Da Bears. Bulls. Blackhawks. Cubs. (The White Sox do not exist for me.) “Bear down, Chicago Bears, make every play clear the way to victory! Bear down, Chicago Bears, put up a fight with a might so fearlessly!” I also know the words to the “Super Bowl Shuffle.” (At least the Walter Payton part – that song has ten verses!) I still remember my grade school teacher bringing a TV into our classroom one afternoon so us kids could dance along to the video after they won the championship. Ah, the good ‘ole days.
I was there for the golden era of the Chicago Bulls. I truly consider myself a fortunate soul to have seen Michael Jordan play in person. I remember that breakthrough playoff season when we finally – finally – beat the Pistons and went on to win our first championship in 1991. Then the first Three-Peat. The second coming of Jordan. A second Three-Peat. I remember the rallies. Standing for hours under the sun’s intense glare, waiting for our boys to show while getting crushed by the overweight throng of fellow Chicagoans wanting to see Jordan and Co. It was awesome.
Then there are my Cubs… I guess now they’re promoting the slogan, “It’s a Way of Life,” for the 2010 season. I dunno – I think it’s a bad sign when a team’s marketing campaign alludes that to be a Cubs fan is to resign yourself to continual disappointment and heartache. The slogan might as well be, “We’ll always be losers.”
But sweet redemption! My Blackhawks have just become the Stanley Cup champions! There’s always a silver lining. How many peeps can say they’ve witnessed seventy-five percent of their teams taking it all home during their lifetime? Not too shabby.
Look, I don’t know all the statistics. I don’t know all the history. That said, my father has taught me well. We have nary a conversation where he doesn’t throw at me some Chicago sports fact. (FYI – We have two requisite topics for every phone call: the weather and sports.) Yet every time I’m within earshot of any other dude and I mention one of my teams, it’s usually followed by “You’re a hockey fan?” or “You’re a baseball fan?” or “You’re a football fan?” Okay, guys, enough.
Honestly, it’s fine if some dude is surprised that I care about the Stanley Cup Finals. Whatever. What really grinds my gears is when they feel the need to school me with whatever obscure tidbit of trivia that happens to pop into their head at that very moment. Do I know what the initials GSH stand for on the Chicago Bears jerseys? As a matter of fact… RIP, Papa Bear Halas. Was I aware that Toews tied Denis Savard’s franchise record of twenty-nine points during a postseason run? Good to know, thank you.
Why do guys do this with chicks? Because here’s the thing – I’m a keen study. I see the way guys are when watching sports and they don’t do this with each other. They don’t throw out random facts at their fellow brethren as if watching a baseball game was automatic grounds for an impromptu sports history lesson.
Okay, it’s kind of cute. Mildly endearing. I usually just smile, nod and let them have their moment of whatever it is they think they’re getting out of it. Pride. Manliness. Comfort in the hope that they know more about sports than some lame girl. I get it.
Though if the tables were turned, I highly doubt I would feel the need to explain the Big-Carrie-Aidan dynamic to some guy who mentioned that he’s a Sex and the City fan. (And fella, if you ever admit to being a SATC fan – and you’re straight – then I applaud you. You have HUGE balls.) But I digress. If he’s a fan, then I will assume that he probably already knows the B-C-A storyline. I don’t have to one-up him with my SATC wealth of knowledge.
Guys… News flash! Girls. Like. Sports. “And that’s… okay.” They also sometimes love SNL skits from the early nineties. Stuart Smalley, anyone? No? Okay. I guess that’s a blog post for another day.
Photo courtesy of Bob Kimball