If you are a girl, or a woman, or someone who identifies as such, and you happen to also enjoy sports, there is a 98% chance that at some point in your life, a man has asked you to prove that fact. Maybe that man is a friend. Maybe it’s your relative. Maybe it’s a random stranger on the street or in a bar. Maybe it’s your boyfriend, in which case I sincerely hope you dumped him on the spot. Either way, girls who like sports get this often. And it’s bullshit.
Newsflash dudes: we don’t have to prove anything to you. Especially not our interests. If you tell me you like cooking, do I quiz you on obscure recipes used exclusively by Sicilian grandmothers? If you say you enjoy hiking, do I then ask you to name all the hiking trails in the Northeast United States? If you mention that on Sundays you derive pleasure from listening to classical music do I then demand you tell me the name and birthday of every single Baroque flutist? No, I do not. Because that is A.) rude, B.) insane, and C.) fucking ridiculous. Just because someone is a fan of something, or enjoys doing it, or appreciates it in all its forms does not mean that person needs to be a certifiable expert on it. And this appears to be the thing that many men can’t grasp. How dare a woman like sports but not be able to name the coach of every single NFL team in 35 seconds flat? You’re not a real fan! You’re just doing it to be cool.
Because that’s the spectrum for some guys apparently. If a chick says she likes sports, she has to immediately prove it, usually by answering some kind of insanely specific question about the topic, oftentimes not even related or associated to the sport in question. The guy is usually asking this in a smug, disbelieving manner, with the attitude of “she’ll never get this”. And then if you DO get it, if you prove your worth to this dingbat by correctly answering his (oftentimes) trick question, his brows will raise, he’ll give you a nod of acknowledgement, and say, in an extremely condescending manner, “Wow, I’m impressed.” You know, because Other Girls™ don’t know shit about sports, so naturally you must be better than them.
I don’t play this game anymore. I’ll admit that I used to fall for it, many years back when I started getting really into hockey. Guys at bars would see my Rangers jersey, would see me getting heated at bad calls, or screaming our fight song when we scored, and they would inevitably quiz me. “Name five Rangers players who aren’t Lundqvist,” they’d say. Or “When was the last time the Rangers won the Stanley Cup?” At first, I’d play along, proud I was able to floor them by showing my worth as a hockey fan. But then, I realized the double-standard. They weren’t asking the men at the bar these questions. Only me. Only the women. And that was crap. So I stopped participating. When they would ask me, I would retaliate by wondering out loud if they asked the guy sitting next to me the same question. Or I would simply stare at them, unamused, waiting to see how long it would take for them to get freaked out by my dead-eyed glare.
Cus here’s the thing, guys: women who like sports don’t owe you anything. We don’t owe you a fucking explanation as to WHY we like a certain team, or a certain player, or a specific sport. We do NOT have to show you our knowledge in order to be respected as human beings and sports fans. See, some men seem to think the spectrum goes like this:
Note that these are complete stereotypes of women. Dudes can’t seem to understand that a woman can be a lesbian who loves pink and hates sports, or a girl who likes beer and is into football but only during the Superbowl, or a lady who has awesome makeup skills and loves the Kardashians and also loves the Dodgers. And in real life, like in most spectrums, there are a wide range of fans with different degrees of interest. Since some men apparently have trouble with this concept, let me break it down for you:
- Some women, LIKE MEN, are fair-weather fans. They get really into a team or a sport when they’re doing well, especially in a town where sports are a huge deal. The Patriots are going to the Superbowl and a girl lives in New England? Sure, maybe she’ll don a hat and get into the spirit. This does not give you the right to challenge her as a sports spectator.
- Some women, LIKE MEN, are particularly into one player. Even if that player moves to another team, the woman will follow his career. Perhaps she has no interest in any other members of his team, or even the sport itself. That is okay. This does not give you the right to challenge her as a sports spectator.
- Some women, LIKE MEN, are really really into one sport. That could be baseball, basketball, cricket, rugby, table tennis, I don’t give a shit, it could be any of them, but that is the only one she’s into, and she knows it backwards and forwards. This does not give you the right to challenge her as a sports spectator.
- Some women, LIKE MEN, love all sports. They know a ton, they play, they genuinely enjoy watching all the different games, and they have a list of their favorite teams and players. This does not give you the right to challenge her as a sports spectator.
- Some women, LIKE MEN, are casual viewers. They’ll watch it when it’s on, they’ll hang out at bars and cheer for the teams they enjoy seeing. They know enough about the game to be knowledgeable, but they don’t know all the minor ins and outs. She’s just having fun. This does not give you the right to challenge her as a sports spectator.
- Some women, LIKE MEN, fucking hate sports. They don’t like them at all. And it’s not because sports are some inherently masculine thing, they just aren’t into them. The same way you might not be into Japanese food, or movies about talking animals. But maybe if the game is on at a get-together, and the girl is being a good sport (pun intended), she’ll hang out and do her own thing while half-watching. This does not give you the right to challenge her as a sports spectator.
So now that we’ve cleared that up, maybe we can move forward and stop quizzing and testing women who say they like sports. Or even women who are just fucking standing there wearing a jersey or a team hat. Men, if you’ve ever done this, take a look at yourself and ask why you felt compelled to do this. Ask why you didn’t feel the need to make any of the men around you prove themselves too. And then in the future, if you feel the urge to do such a thing again, STOP yourself, question what the hell you’re doing, and then just simply don’t. Enjoy the game, and stop making the act of watching a sports competition into a sexist competition instead.