Life on the Sidelines—Women, Men, and Spectator Sports

compromising with your boyfriendIf you’re a woman who loves watching sports, consider yourself lucky. If not, you’re in the majority and probably already know what it feels like to be on the sidelines.

Let’s start with a typical worst-case scenario.

It’s the six-month anniversary of your first date with a terrific guy. You’re looking forward to a romantic evening out…or at least you were.

Since you don’t follow professional sports, you have no idea that your six-month anniversary happens to be falling in the middle of the [insert the name of any sports league here] finals.

On your anniversary, Team X will be facing off with Team Y. Who cares? Think again.

The terrific guy you’ve been dating for the past six months grew up in Team Y’s hometown and has been following the team since kindergarten. To put it mildly, he’s a huge fan. But when he gets together with the guys to watch the game, it’s about more than sports.

Okay, you’re skeptical. Sports are sports whether you’re talking about football or hockey, right? Not quite.

Sports psychologist Dr. Daniel Wann observes that the similarities between sports fandom and organized religion are striking.

Dr. Wann has found that sports fans use religious language to talk about their favorite teams. Fans say they are “devoted” to their team and “worship” the players. Sometimes they even compare arenas and stadiums to cathedrals!

What does this mean? When the terrific guy you are dating gets together with his friends to drink beer, watch the game, yell land wave his fists in the air, he’s engaging in a meaningful ritual.

compromising with your boyfriend

But does this mean you should just put up with being brushed off?

Not exactly. If you’re hurt or annoyed, tell him. But don’t count on this changing the situation. So what are your options?

First, there is the option of joining him. This may sound crazy but today, an estimated 35% of sports fans are women. For some couples, watching the game is a shared activity to which they look forward.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can simply let him be.

Just as you can date a Buddhist without taking up meditation, you can date a fan without becoming a devoted follower.

Of course, to avoid future conflicts, be honest. If missing an anniversary date for a game is a problem, let him know.  Come up with ground rules, and respect each other’s needs and limits.

The final option is a compromise. He gets his sports, and you get to indulge in whatever activity you love and can’t live without.

During the first six months of any relationship, the focus is often on similarities rather than differences. This is especially true when everything appears to be clicking.

In reality, differences are inevitable and even healthy.

Still feeling left on the sidelines? Don’t! His passion for sports is not about you—it’s about him. In other words, rest assured, you’re still in the game.


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One thought on “Life on the Sidelines—Women, Men, and Spectator Sports

  1. Sally Sunday said:

    Interesting thoughts James, From a sports gal, my partner and I live in an area of California with many entertainment options, sports and winning teams being part of it. We enjoy watching games on TV at home, some with friends, and going to a sports bar and enjoying the activity with others. My family and I had favorites when I was growing up, and my partner decided he could join in our fevered passion for sports most of the time, as long as other activities were part of our life together. My girlfriends do not follow sports as we do, and social activities or sporting events can be missed; Comcast recently installed X-1 for us, and now we can do both, as we record a game while we are out! Hope you are having a wonderful summer.

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