I'm A Female Sports Fan—Why Is This A Turn-Off?

woman with basketball
Love, Self

A female sports nut wonders why a perfect March Madness bracket doesn't translate to dating success.

So, what is a sports-loving lady like myself to do??

"Guys will appreciate it that you understand what a first-and-ten is, but they'd rather you be the cheerleader they had the crush on in high school instead of a player in the band," Spira says. "So let him know you like sports, and you know how the game is played. [But] make him feel that he's smarter about the sport that he's passionate about than you are. This way, he stays your hero. You stay the cheerleader." She's A Sports Fan, He's Not

My immediate reaction was: Um, no way. Naturally, I was not the cheerleader in high school, and I did not intend to become one now. But, after letting her words sink in for a while, something struck me. Frustrated and confused about men, I remembered one occasion where I asked my twentysomething guy friend, Nate, who has been in a happy relationship for three years, this: What is the most important thing I need to understand about guys? His answer was surprisingly simple:

"We like to feel useful."

Ahhh, I thought as all this clicked into place. So, that's it? ...Want to know what I remember about cheerleaders in high school? Boy, did they ever have that whole damsel-in-distress thing down. And guys ate it up. Not just because they were obsessed with explaining biology homework to someone, but because they liked to feel useful to women who wanted their help. Men like to feel like heroes. Same principle applies here.

Sports are male terrain. It's one of those givens where men just anticipate they'll be useful to women—even if it's only on Super Bowl Sunday, one time a year, when their girlfriends actually watch a game. I know we live in a culture where that gender divide is becoming less and less apparent, but still. 

As I thought about it, if I take that territory away, it made sense why guys would balk. If I can't let a guy weigh in a bit on my March Madness picks or let him explain why man-to-man defense is better than a zone—even if I already know, or think I know—then I am not allowing him to feel useful. I am not letting him help, and feel like a man's man. And I should be. It doesn't mean I have to change who I am, or like sports any less. I just have to be more considerate of how my extreme attitude will be perceived—at least initially. I need to deconstruct years of my "best the guys" thought process.

So, I'm going to work on taking his opinion into account, and being a little less adamant about my ultimate knowledge of any given sport. I'm going to work on being a little more like, dare I say it, a cheerleader. Maybe a cheerleader who enjoys a basketball game that goes into OT and reads up on NCAA tournament predictions, but one who can always use his extra help determining whether the play ended with a block or a charge. March Madness Time: 5 Reasons To Date A Girl Who Loves Sports

And will I still get secretly excited if my March Madness bracket is a little better than his? Sure. But who has to know?