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Your lifestyle, your quirk
Every conversation I have about sports seems to follow the same pattern. When a man asks, “What’s your favorite team?” I respond, “The New York Yankees.” I brace myself for the inevitable response: “Oh, Derek Jeter, huh?” Sometimes this is accompanied with a wink or a chuckle, as if he is referring to an inside joke.
Why is it perceived that a woman is a fan of a sports team because the quarterback is “dreamy,” or because the team colors are “pretty,” but a man’s team loyalty is never questioned? I believe it is part of a bigger issue. Sports are strongly associated with male bonding, while the women are left out. Note the endless commercials that air during sporting events, showing all of the men huddled together in the living room, cheering on their team while the women are either bringing them food or cleaning up after them. The mentality that boys play with trucks and girls play with dolls is not only outdated, it’s also offensive.
This perception is not always limited to men. At a holiday party last year, I mentioned that I was hopeful about the New York Jets making the playoffs. A woman turned to me and said, “Now, do you really like the Jets, or do you just like Mark Sanchez?” This was especially disconcerting to me, but I can understand the reasoning behind it. If watching sports is an exclusively male activity, then women can feel secure knowing that her significant other is simply spending time with the guys. Female sports fans are intimidating to these women because they’re right down in the thick of it with the guys. Women who aren’t sports fans don’t mind being left out, as long as all women are left out. Maybe the reason women feel like they aren’t allowed to watch sports actually has more to do with misplaced loyalty to other women.
I avoid Super Bowl parties. Ever been to one? The dynamic of a Super Bowl party: men gather around the television to watch the game and women gather in the kitchen to chat. Does this sound familiar? This is a real problem for me, because I am always the one girl who actually wants to watch the game. The men resent me for intruding on their “guy time,” and the women resent me for isolating myself from the girls and joining the guys. It reminds me of when I tried to play baseball with the boys in fifth grade during recess, and all the other girls in my class stood on the baseline in solidarity against my inclusion, preventing the game from continuing and ending my baseball career.
It typically takes five minutes or less for most men to realize that I am a true sports fan, and that I probably know more about sports than they do. At that point, the chuckles and winks disappear, and there is a shift in their judgment. Sometimes men can actually appreciate my love of sports, which is great for me, as long as they don’t invite me to a Super Bowl party!