There always comes a day when you can’t just ignore it anymore. Perhaps you started dating someone new. Maybe you’re trying to get much-needed face-time with your boss. Did you just move to a foreign country, and suddenly the only thing to do on a Friday night is visit the lads at the pub and watch the rugby match?
Be it out of boredom or being a good friend, at some point you’ll have to at least feign (if not actually invest) interest into a sport that you care nothing about. If you’re lucky, you’ll only have to sit through one really big event of the year (Don’t get me started, NASCAR). But other major events can last for unendurable weeks (March “Mania”) or sometimes even a month (the World Cup). You might as well at least try to enjoy yourself. Here’s how:
- Find a friend who don’t mind incessant questions.
Part of the reason you hate watching [insert your least favorite sport here] is because you have no clue what is going on.Find a friend who both loves watching games and doesn’t mind explaining why you say “offside” instead of “off sides” every time it happens, or that there are actually strategic plays in basketball and not a cluster of guys just running around trying to “get open.” I once even had my roommate’s younger brother stand next to the TV and actually point to where the football was from snap to pass to end zone.Figure out what to look for and you’ll be surprised how fast the quarters/periods/innings fly by.
- Discover the right atmosphere.
There are some things – like meditation, reading, using a neti pot – that are suited for solo consumption. By and large, sporting events are not. The bigger and rowdier your viewing compatriots are, the more fun it’s going to be. Go ahead and have a drink. Indulge in some finger food. Learn some kooky chants and yell them to your TV. Make fun of the commentators.In an average game of football, there are only 11 minutes of actual playing. The rest of the viewing experience is what you make it. So surround yourself with the people you like at a place you love, and let loose a little.
- Go to an actual game.
Going to a live sporting event is a 100%, utterly and completely different experience than watching one on TV. It’s sort of like going to a funny movie in the movie theater: the movie will always get more laughs in a crowded theater than at home, alone, on your laptop. You watch sports on TV for HD close-ups and the commercials. You watch sports live and in-person for the atmosphere.In addition, sports arenas have beer gardens and people in face paint. There is a chance that you will be on TV. There is an even slimmer chance that you’ll catch an extra-large t-shirt shot out of a cannon by a furry mascot named “Squatch.” And on the off chance that your team wins or there is an amazing play: you get to say you were there.
- Make the game into your own game.
It may be impossible to convert you into an all out sports nut, and that’s okay. There are plenty of ways to participate in sports viewing without actually having to watch the game. Have fun your own way: drink the opposing team’s native drink if it’s an international game. Make penny bets on silly things, like how many guys on any given team during March Madness will be wearing a compression sleeve on just one arm. Rate the commercials. Chip in on Moundball during interminable baseball games.
A word to the wise: if your idea of a good time is making humorous, disparaging remarks throughout the entire game, make sure you’re with the right audience. If most of the people like the sport you’re currently making fun of, things could get ugly. As it turns out, sports fans are quite sensitive.
Emma Stover is a writer and total sports curmudgeon. She wrote this on behalf of the basketball-loving team of R analytics developers and big data analysis guys at Revolution Analytics.