“Oh yeah,” Hannah said when I asked her if her boyfriend became angry and moody at the loss of a game by a favorite sports team, “One time he threw a Raiders hat in the garbage and said, ‘I’m done with them.’”
How many women have gone through this or similar experiences? Ladies, this is our story, our collective experience with the men we love who love sports.
When I started dating my boyfriend (who watches anything he can get his eyeballs on on ESPN, including Crossfit and golf), I asked him: “Are you the kind of fan who gets mad and in a bad mood when your team loses?” I had to ask. The relationship was new, and I needed to know what I was dealing with. “Oh no,” he assured me.
Well, that was then, and this is now, and since that time I have sat through more sports games in a month than I previously had in all 24 years of my life combined. It hasn’t been awful. In fact, I’ve enjoyed a lot of those games. But since we run so many sports articles in this magazine, written mainly by the same man I have sat next to on the couch for what seems like thousands of games, I wanted to provide an alternate perspective.
Like I said, I’ve enjoyed many of the games I’ve watched. I always liked a football game on TV, provided I had some kind of tactile craft to entertain me while watching — some crocheting or painting that would allow me to zone in and out of the action on the screen. Recently, though, and especially during the precarious 2013 Heat-Pacers Eastern Conference Finals series, I have been privy to a part of my boyfriend that I never knew before.
“That’s goaltending! That’s GOALtending!” He shouts at no one in particular. I mean, no one in the room disagrees with him — certainly not me; I don’t even know what “goaltending” means in regard to anything but soccer. I sit with my laptop next to him and continue writing as if that outburst hadn’t happened. Outside of a sports setting, he never raises his voice, so this is a new thing.
He continues to talk to the TV, mumbling on about referees and foul calls and how Lebron is “on fire” and how D-Wade is “injured but he still needs to drive to the basket.” I think: What? You never have a bad day at work? Wade’s not allowed to have a bad night at his job? I don’t say this, though. I just type away, responding to his fragmented statements with monotonously camp phrases like: “Yeah, I can’t believe that” or “That’s ridiculous!” He doesn’t notice that I’m not engaged. He’s not talking to me; he’s talking to something else — in this case, an inanimate object that sits in the center of the room and flashes colors and sounds to millions of viewers.
When the final buzzer sounds and the Heat are ECF champions again, I jump up off the couch and clap and cheer, but it’s mostly in solidarity to my boyfriend, who I can be assured will not sulk around in moody silence, at least until the next loss.
Men, this is an act of love. When we sit on the couch with you and your friends, when we set out chips and plan Sunday afternoons around game time — we are showing that we love you: Because we may not be into the Blackhawks and the Kings (not least because neither team is one we are remotely related to in proximity or emotion!), but we are into you. This is our sacrifice for you, and a worthy one, because even though we’ve been taken to sports games for first dates instead of to nice dinners, even though we sometimes have to wait to tell you all the details of our terrible day of work because you are excited about the “best NFL draft pick in years,” we see the value of who you are beyond your feelings about Jeffrey Loria and the Marlins.
Just you remember that the next time we want to go shopping and ask you to hold the bags.
Previously from Laura Creel:
♦ Mine Eyes Have Beheld the Monkey-Humans of Ages Past!
♦ Heads Up: Don’t Ask for a Cup of Water on Spirit Airlines. Denied!
♦ Watsky’s “Sloppy Seconds” First on My Playlist
♦ Nikki Sixx is Super Annoying and Takes Himself Waaaay 2 Srsly
♦ What Luhrmann’s Lacks, Fitzgerald’s Struggles Under: The Weightiness of Death in “The Great Gatsby”