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The sporting news

Barry Smith
Barry Smith
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I have a problem, but it’s nothing that a simple newsletter won’t solve.

Which brings me to my next problem – the simple newsletter that would solve my problem doesn’t exist. I’m hoping someone will, after hearing my initial problem, create such a newsletter for me.

My problem: I’m a heterosexual male who knows absolutely nothing about sports.

I can get through most days without this being a real issue. But sometimes, well … it can lead to awkward situations.

Consider this true story:

A while back I decided to book a session with a personal trainer. I was new to the whole gym thing and figured I could use a bit of an introduction. I pictured myself struggling to push a barbell skyward while my trainer stood over me yelling “Two more! Two more, you little maggot!” Pretty manly, right? You betcha.

We met at the gym at 7 a.m. sharp and each hopped on a stationary bicycle. After a minute of pedaling in silence, he turned to me and said, “How about that game last night, huh?”

Oops. Not only did I not see “that game” last night, I didn’t even know what sport he was talking about. Could have been football, could have been tennis. Could have been the Olympics. I had no clue.

I’ve tried faking my way out of these situations in the past (“Yeah, quite a game, I tell you what …”) but sometimes people want to discuss details, and that’s when things can get weird. I’ve learned that you can only offer so many variations of “He certainly did execute that sporting move very skillfully, didn’t he? I tell you what …” before people start to catch on. Besides, if I talk for too long, I’m going to slip up and say something like, “Basketball … now, that’s the one with the orange ball that they bounce, right?” So I’ve learned to be honest about my affliction from the start.

“Sorry, dude,” I said to the trainer. “I’m a heterosexual male who doesn’t know a thing about sports. We’re gonna have to talk about something else.”

“That’s cool,” he said, and then proceeded to pull ahead of me – something I didn’t realize was possible to do on a stationary bike.

My Internet research shows that there’s no shortage of sports updates, wrap-ups and rundowns that you can have e-mailed to you on a daily basis, but that’s not what I want. The reason I don’t know about sports is that I don’t care, and I don’t want to start caring. I have no desire to fill my head with stats or rules or playoff schedules or names of team members or even names of teams. I don’t want to understand, I just want to be able to fake it really well.

Here’s what I’m picturing: Each morning I receive an e-mail “newsletter” containing two statements, an initiation and a follow-up. I print these statements out on a palm-sized bit of paper and carry it with me into the sports-worshipping world.

“Man, the Broncos took such a beating last night,” I say to the guys in the tire store, stealing a glance at my crib sheet.

They’ll nod, and grumble, and respond with a bunch of sports crap. None of which I’ll have to listen to, of course, I’ll just wait until the grumbling has died down, then read my follow-up: “But Philadelphia totally outplayed us, so I can’t feel too bad.”

See? Now I’ve pro-actively established myself as a normal, ordinary, sports-knowledge-laden guy. Should talk then turn to something not covered in my daily quote, like descriptions of certain plays or, God forbid, discussion of an entirely different sport, no problem. I can excuse myself by pretending to take a cell phone call or lapsing into a coughing fit. Or, since I’m now A-OK in their book, I can merely change the subject. Just another heterosexual sports-loving guy changing the subject – nothing suspicious about that, right?

“How about that Project Runway last night, huh?”

Barry Smith can be reached for comment through vailtrail.com.


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