My entire life I have been a passionate sports fan. I can rattle off championship years, retired numbers, and statistics with the same ease some people can regurgitate a Backstreet Boy’s song. Following sports has been my passion ever since a young age. Being a Massachusetts native, I was always rooting for my hometown boys. While a fan of all sports, in particular I feel truly, madly, and deeply in love with my Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins.
I know the extensive history of all of my teams, including the painful drought years that preceded my arrival in the Beantown sports fandom. In high school when I would find myself losing focus, I wouldn’t be doodling. I would be scribbling down possible line combinations for teams around the NHL or diagraming some of the biggest blockbuster trades baseball has ever seen. Sometimes I would even imagine what Bill Bellichek would say if he actually ever said anything at a press conference. Sports are what I love. They are what I know.
More often than not, when I do have the opportunity to talk sports with someone, they happen to be male. I know I do the thing when given the chance to give my opinion on a situation. My eyes light up, and I shake a little bit with excitement. My lips unwillingly twitch into a smile. The fuse has been lit, and I am ready to explain, argue, contemplate, and reexamine. I’m filled with joy at the opportunity to share my thoughts on what I love. However, more often than not, the conversation ends with me staring at my feet, unsure of what to do. More often than not, the conversation ends with, “You know a lot about X, for a girl.”
Female sports fans know exactly the moment I am describing. It is the moment when something as arbitrary as anatomy impacts people’s perception of your passion. It is the moment when some guy makes a COMPLETELY inaccurate assessment of a player’s impact on his/her respective team, but instead of engaging him in discussion, you hold back, aware that you will not be taken seriously. If you do assert that you are a fan, you will be tested. You will constantly be quizzed, and if you answer one question wrong, then you’re irrelevant. People will try to buy you pink jerseys because that is obviously what you want. They will ask you if you like sports because the players are attractive. They will tell you it’s “cute” or “hot” that you’ve taken in interest in this testosterone dominated world. They will find anyway they can to invalidate this passion that burns inside you.
To me, there is nothing more incredible than being a loyal fan of both a team, and of a sport. There is a sense of community, of belonging. Don’t let anybody try to take that away from you. I challenge you ladies to keep being you. The intimidation from both men, and even other women who enjoy the same things as you do can be hard to deal with. They might try to knock you down a peg to make themselves feel superior. However, it is only through fighting this, that you can truly feel free to express what you love. Do speak up when your dad’s best friend makes an ignorant comment regarding the Toronto Maple Leaf’s salary cap situation. Tell the guy in front of you at Campus Market that if Neil Walker stays healthy, he’ll break his own personal record for homers (21) in 2015. Say exactly what you think of Johnny Football. Criticize or praise Marc Andre-Fleury. Rant about why the Cardinals are THE most underrated team in the NFL. Be you, and share what you love with the world.
Please, please, please, turn to that kid who you just spent twenty minutes discussing the intricacies of the Giants bullpen with, who pulled the “for a girl” card. Take a deep breath, look him in the eye, and tell him, “I know a lot about sports period,” and walk away. You and I both know just what being part of something bigger than you feels like, and if that jerk even for a moment tries to belittle your membership, he obviously doesn’t understand it at all.
Peace & Love,