Offside in sports talk

So, I’m at a bar, Roger Federer and David Beckham* are my wingmen. This club is filled with beautiful women but so far I haven’t found the right one. As the lights dim, a beautiful brunette emerges and approaches my entourage and me. I make eyes at her, but as she looks at the two products of natural selection at my sides she becomes confused as to what I’m doing there with my beer gut and sluggish movements. “I play baseball” is all I offer as an excuse. “Pitcher.” As she turns to go, I double down my efforts, “Golf?”

Truth be told, I know nothing about sports. My worst nightmare is to be trapped in a conversation with die-hard sports fans, the type who grunt and shadowbox while watching UFC. How do I think A-Rod would do against the rotation of Johnson, Dickie and Wang? I mutter something about how my mother doesn’t let me go on those types of websites. “Do your shirts need more nachos guys?”

Growing up as a self-identifying male in this sports-obsessed world, I’ve learned how to bullshit my way through, so now I’d like to dribble these pucks of wisdom down the court to you.

As talk of MLB, PGA, NHL and WTF swirl around, what I find helpful is throwing the occasional sentence in so the jocks don’t suspect that the only “season” I watched lately was the new Arrested Development.

The key is to know at least one athlete from every sport. Know your Lebron, your Messi, Usain Bolt, Tom Brady, Sidney Crosby, but if this seems like too much work then do what I do and just know the one athlete who does every sport well: The Tiger. Not Tiger Woods, I mean Tony the Tiger. I heard he’s greeeat!

It’s not that I don’t like sports, I understand why they’re important. It makes sense why Michael Phelps would train so hard to develop strong lungs if he’s going to smoke all that pot out of a bong. But I just never felt the need to participate in them, and when I did, I never had any luck. My trophy case is covered with participation ribbons.

When I was 11, I played house hockey and my loving father, who worked at the Telegraph-Journal, wrote a story entitled “March of the Penguin” about what it was like to be the progenitor of the worst player on the team. The article had such inspiring quotes as: “It can be painful watching from the stands” and “Doddle is his top speed.” He’d yell things like: “Get in their way!” Or conversely when we had the puck: “Get out of the way!”

Soccer, on the other hand, is the only sport where you can play an entire game without touching the ball, let alone another player, and nobody will notice or care. That’s my kind of sport. Coincidentally, when I played soccer I was always the goaltender (keeper? sleeper?) because I was so good at blocking the ball with my face.

Which reminds me, It always seemed odd that some football and hockey fans make fun of fans of other sports like soccer. I think it’s jealousy because soccer players, who actually go outside and play soccer any chance they get, look trim in their jerseys.** And it’s already so damn hard to compete with those sexy foreign accents.

Back at the bar, I’ve given up on chasing the girls for the night. I go to the bartender and order a drink, probably something manly like a Dave Matthews.

After a couple of sips, I look to my left and who is it but Don Cherry having a few pops. He turns to me and we start talking about the fabrics of his suits and other sartorial concerns. Finally, something I can talk about.

“Grapes, you’re absolutely right,” I say. “Those European do look absolutely brilliant in their tight-fitting soccer jerseys.”

 

*I swear this column is not just an excuse to type “Sexiest Male Sports Players” into Google.

**Which as a bonus aren’t stained with nacho grease.

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