Too often, people assume that women are not true sports fans, whether or not they really likes sports. As a result, girls who genuinely enjoy athletics end up being ridiculed or patronized for their interests, and sometimes even have them mansplained right back to them.
As an avid baseball fan, I know that feeling very well, so here are the 10 topics you may want to avoid when a girl tells you she likes sport to keep the conversation going.
1. “Name a player”
So the quizzing begins. No matter what sport or team she follows, a girl is always faced with skepticism as soon as she reveals her passion for the game. The naming challenge itself may not be that difficult since she may be able to name multiple players of her home team, maybe even the entire starting lineup of your favorite baseball team, and maybe even that of your team’s rival.
However, the challenge a girl has to go through to prove their position as a “true fan” never stops being annoying. Just try to have a regular conversation with us about the sport and we’ll be able to carry our weight and provide knowledgeable input just fine.
2. “You only like (insert team name) because of (insert attractive player’s name)”
As a Chicago Cubs fan I constantly hear this annoying comment: “You only like the Cubs because of Kris Bryant.” Girls like Kris Bryant just as much as any guys do, not for his appearance, but for his performance at the plate and on third that has led him to two all-star game appearances, 2015 NL Rookie of the Year and 2016 NL MVP, as well as a World Series title (the first one for the Cubs in 108 years, I might add). Yes, girls know what is going on on the field and who makes it happen.
3. “You just like the colors”
One, it is reasonable to like the colors of the team you support, as the colors assume something beyond aesthetical appeals to most fan bases. Hence the bleed (insert team colors) sayings and apparel.
But no, it is not typically how anyone selects their favorite team, girl or guy, not to mention the dismissal voice implied in the comment that could put any one — regardless of their gender — off the conversation.
4. “Name all the teams in the NL”
Again, neither an interesting nor a challenging quiz in any possible way, but certainly a patronizing one that annoys others. Sadly, most of the girls who like sports have heard it in many forms on many occasions.
If you’re a football fan, name all the teams in either the NFC or AFC. If you are a NBA fan, name the teams in the Eastern or Western Conference. Regardless of the gender of the one you are talking with, posing a gateway challenge is never a good idea to break the ice.
5. “Did you just look that up?”
Whether you’re excited about a trade rumor or sharing a statistic relevant to the game, many guys are quick to accuse your knowledge of being searched far and wide for, rather than something picked up as a longtime fan and regular follower of the team. In that case, calmly assure them that they are all wrong to think such trivial information requires a huge research to come across, or maybe just leave the conversation.
For guys who are about to pose that question in any sport-related conversations to a girl, quit it. You having to look up something on Google does not mean others, especially girls, have to do the same to know that information.
6. “You probably want that (insert kind of apparel) in pink”
As a girl who likes sports, you have most likely faced the struggle of finding good apparel that hasn’t been overly feminized. Too often fan shops make every item of women’s apparel pink with a v neck and obnoxious rhinestones, but the nightmare does not stop there.
With their t-shirt or hoodies decorated with “Mrs. Bryant” or “I’m just here for Harper” across the front, they actively contribute to the stereotype of females going to the games or supporting a team simply for their good look. Can’t I just get a Cubs blue El Mago t-shirt in my size please?
7. “What is the bench coach’s son’s middle name?”
After a while the “are you a real fan?” questions get a little monotonous, don’t they? When guys around me start switching to the “real” challenging questions of “What is the bench coach’s son’s middle name?” I like to respond with “what’s your mother’s blood type, do you even love her?”
You reap what you sow, guys. Don’t ask people ridiculous questions if you yourself cannot deal with one.
8. “Is your boyfriend a fan or something?”
Yeah, this is not okay. To assume that a girl likes sports only because of a guy is sexist and would most likely offend any female sports fan. Yes, my boyfriend is a huge baseball fan, and as a former player, I have learned a lot from him.
However, long before I met him I was wearing Fukudome jerseys and rocking tees that read “Ryno for president.” Also, because he is a Yankees fan, I am proud to say that since he began dating me, my boyfriend has learned all the words to “Go Cubs Go” and even owns a Rizzo jersey. They’re NL anyways, right?
9. Overhearing guys who don’t know baseball pretending they do
Underestimation comes not only in the form of gateway challenges but also in the form of pretense. Sometimes guys brag about sports they do not know that well under the impression that the girl they are talking to cannot call them out.
Reality is more brutal than their expectation: not only do girls know a lot about sports, they are also able to tell exactly what kind of pretentious person the guy is. For example, I once overheard a guy say Addison Russell is the best shortstop in baseball, which could send any baseball fan through the roof.
Ladies, in the name of all girls who like sports and are true fans, don’t be afraid to correct guys when they go on inaccurate sports rants or state positions without any reference to performance statistics. And guys, don’t talk about things you do not know. Chances are the girl in front of you is an expert in that exact same sport.
10. “Do you go to games for pictures?”
Again, this is wrong to assume that when a girl says she likes sports, she means the photo op. Any fans would be thrilled with the opportunity of taking pictures with their favorite players at the stadium, but the greatest memories are in the actions themselves. Girls or guys are just the same.
So yes, I may take a couple of pictures at the field I grew up to love, but I’ll probably take a few pictures when my team, who hadn’t won the World Series in 108 years, receives their World Series rings. Those kind of pictures speak for the whole experience themselves.