It's All About the Compromise...
One of the most common questions I get from women is about sports. Why do most guys care so much about something that seems to have so little practical effect on their lives?
Allow me to shed some light on the subject.
If you're a girl and you're reading this, I want you to think about your first heartbreak (I know it's a painful memory, but bear with me). Chances are it went something like this:
You finally worked up the nerve to ask out the boy you really liked in your school, he either said no (which gave you some kind of complex that took you a long time to get over), or he said yes--only to leave you for either one of your friends or the girl you hated the most (which gave you some kind of complex that took you a long time to get over).
As a guy I will tell you about my first heartbreak and I'm sure a countless number of other guys had a similar experience:
It was January 27th, 1991. America was in the throws of the first Iraqi conflict, but a six year old me was rather excited. Two very rare things were happening that night; my parents were getting my brother, sister and I a pizza from Pizza Hut (our favorite at the time, but we were rarely allowed to have it for some reason; that's probably why I have such a rockin' body) and my beloved Buffalo Bills were playing in their first Superbowl.
When half time rolled around, however, things were not going well. The pizza, which was ordered before the game, had not been delivered. To make matters worse, the Bills were behind. This was due to an inexplicable inability to tackle the Giants running back, Otis Anderson, and get their defense the hell off the field.
By the final drive of the game, the Bills had made a comeback and were within one point of victory. The clock was winding down and (Bills kicker) Scott Norwood was sent on the field to try a 47 yard field goal attempt as time would expire. The Bills could still win.
What happened next was a moment I'll never forget. The Bills players were linked arm in arm down the sideline, the world watched with their collective breath held, the ball sailed up in the air and I could hear the announcer: "The kick is up, it has the distance.... NO GOOD! AND THE GIANTS ARE SUPERBOWL CHAMPIONS!"
"Wide Right." Two words that haunt me (and any true Bills fan) to this day. I don't cry at funerals, but I cried that night. Sure, I was only six years old but that doesn't matter; if it happened today I'd probably still cry.
I tell that story for a reason, there are many ways men and women are wired differently. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the need for an emotional connection is not one of them. Throughout human evolution, a man's merit has been based on his strength. A woman wanted to be with a man who could provide for and protect her family. A large show of emotions would imply a vulnerability. Too much vulnerability and you weren't getting the girl.
The backbone of that thinking survives today. Women might think they like an overly sensitive modern guy, but not really. So, there is a societal imperative for guys not to show too much emotion, especially to women. But, the need for it still exists, so where to go?
Sports. Most meaningful relationships go through a lot of ups and downs. Some moments are really exciting, others leave you feeling truly awful, but it's all part of the relationship experience. Most guys get those same feelings from their sports teams. It's something they have in common, they can talk openly about it. Even if they disagree, both parties usually enjoy the discussion.
Sports serve as a bonding agent among men, too. I once had a cable guy that knew I was a Bills fan. The next day, I discovered my cable box was defective. I had to drive to the nearest Time Warner station myself and exchange it. But, this guy rearranged his whole schedule to come take care of it for me.
Then there's the loyalty component. Every serious relationship has moments where the couple fights. Some of these fights are huge and leave both parties feeling sad or depressed. But, if the couple manages to overcome their argument, then they come together that much closer. When a team plays poorly, sometimes for years, that year when they actually win is so much more rewarding. Ask a Red Sox fan what 2004 was like.
I recently bounced some ideas for this article off a close friend of mine who is a huge Green Bay Packers fan. He told me there are times when he finds a girl in a Packers jersey just as, if not more, attractive than that same girl in lingerie. While I initially laughed at the idea, I thought about it a little more and would have to agree with him. (Replace Packers with Bills).
When I mention this theory, a lot of women ask me what they can do about their sport- crazy boyfriends. First of all, you need to know sports-obsession isn’t so bad. Unless he goes way too far with it, meaning he won’t get out of bed if his team loses, then there might be some deeper issues I'm not qualified to talk about.
Your best bet is to embrace it. You don't have to be as big a fan as he is (it's not necessary), but take a little time to learn the basics of the sport (if you don't already know it) to show some interest. If you can't embrace it, at least accept it. If you try to make it you versus his team then you probably won't like the result. Even if you're successful in getting him to choose you, he's probably going to harbor some kind of resentment. I know a lot of guys who were married many times, but they've always been a Yankees’ fans.
If it bothers you that much, try compromising. Learn to accept his love for his sports teams and he learn to accept something you like. Work together here; it doesn't have to be all or nothing.
Oh incase you're wondering; that pizza never came either. Pizza Hut totally stiffed us and if anybody from Pizza Hut is reading this; screw you. You helped make a six year old cry. *
*I will be willing to write a full retraction if somebody at Pizza Hut (or its parent company) contacts me with an apology. I will even consider writing a very pro Pizza Hut article if the company should chose to go beyond an apology and actually do something (read: free pizza) to compensate for my pain and suffering. Ball's in your court, guys.