The fact that sports don’t matter makes it all the more baffling how widely and passionately they are treated as if they do. Pro sports players often make millions a year. Congress often spends millions investigating them for steroid use. Individual games spark insane, sometimes violent, displays of emotion from otherwise strong, silent types — and not just in Philadelphia.
I love men very, very much, and I like to think I get them for the most part. Indeed, I am often mistaken for a sports fan; I think this is because I am vulgar and aggressive and fond of beer. These qualities of mine make me all the sadder that I somehow, despite years of trying, can’t seem to care about sports. Other people talk about sports and I see gorgeous, endless vistas of easy shit-talking opening up before my eyes — and yet it is as if I am wearing an electric dog collar of apathy that shocks me with the knowledge that sports do not matter every time I try to leave my own sensible yard and venture into the irrational world of sports fandom.
Still, I’ve had tantalizing glimpses of what life might be like if I could bring myself to care. All the small talk I could make just by finding out where someone is from. “Oh, Chicago? The bench is strong this year, huh? What do you think of that one draft pick? His stats are quite something, but you never know till game time, do ya.” All the consequence-free, non-personal abuse I could heap on my friends just because of their arbitrary allegiances and my equally arbitrary scorn for the same. All the conversations happening around me that I could understand.
Welp, it wasn’t meant to be. But here’s the thing. It’s come to my attention that one doesn’t have to speak very much in order to participate in sports conversations. And participating in sports conversations, in turn, sort of neutralizes the apathy-dog collar. I say “sort of” because it doesn’t actually take away the apathy, but it does make it sting enough less to get one admittance to those lush small talk meadows, in which to then frolick, or something. This is important because you know who likes sports? Powerful men like sports. You know how you get good jobs? You make small talk with powerful men. You know how you make small talk with powerful men? Say a couple of key sports phrases, then agree with all the commentary they generate. I can virtually guarantee they will not ask you for your opinion, and they will give you enough cues that if you say what they said to you in slightly different words back to them, they will think you are a genius.
I learned both of those things by talking to powerful men. The breakthrough came when it somehow occurred to me to refer to Derek Jeter (Yankees, baseball, yawn) as “Jeets” in the presence of a man because I’d heard some other man do it. The man on the receiving end of my baseball knowledge (which I had thereby exhausted) remarked “You know your baseball!” and proceeded to say a lot of things about baseball, to all of which I assented knowingly, without knowing anything.
So the aim of this blog is to provide those kind of shortcuts. Because sports are boring, but they are everywhere. And just because you have to pretend to care about them sometimes doesn’t mean you have to find out about them. I aim to provide three main services, in no particular order and at no particular frequency: Flag in the briefest way possible the big sports-related news of any given week (the Super Bowl was last Sunday, fyi. The Ravens won. They are from Baltimore. Fella named Ray Lewis is famous among them, implicated in shady things, old.) in no more words than are absolutely necessary to decode the conversations you are likely to encounter about it; to supply general, nonfalsifiable remarks to make (e.g. “You know, they made some plays, and they messed some up”) should you find yourself actually having to watch a game; and to highlight interesting/absurd stories that are tangentially related to sports (like, what’s the deal with soccer hooliganism in Egypt? How come people die over sports games?).
Meanwhile, an accompanying twitter feed will supply one reasonable sports opinion per day, per the plea of Randall Munroe, author of this handy cheat sheet:
And that should be enough to get you small talkin.