Creating a Sports Fan 101
Hey there, Bleacher Report. I've missed you.
Lately I've been plagued with this odd problem: None of my friends from college like sports. It's not that they despise sports with every inch of their being, they just don't enjoy sports.
I'm a sports journalism major. For me, at this stage in my life, at the college of my boyhood sports dreams (God bless you, University of Nebraska), sports is near or at the top of my priorities list.
When other kids were partying Spring Break away, I was at home watching March Madness on my TV and computer (and sometimes iPhone) simultaneously.
Those on the outside (NSFs, non-sports fanatics) simply cannot understand what it is like to be a sports fanatic. But I'm here to reassure you all: They can be turned. All it takes is a little...manipulating.
Step One—Trick them into watching
"Hey guys, you should come over and we'll watch a movie and pop popcorn or something this Saturday night in October."
BOOM. They're at your house and you turn on your TV to the greatest American pastime at its peak. Maybe it's rivalry week, maybe not, but there's sure to be something awesome on.
They might resist. They might ask why you started watching football if you said you were going to hang out with them. If they're girls, they might insist that you turn it off and put in "Twilight" or something. I urge you not to give in.
This "first exposure" is vital for the next steps because it creates, in your friends' minds, a connection between you and sports that you will utilize later.
Step Two—Relate sports to something they care about
"You know, they played baseball in 'Twilight.' Baseball is pretty awesome in real life." (Sorry, I was tricked into watching "Twilight" recently. If you haven't seen it, don't.)
The connection of sports to you is not enough yet to make them want to like sports. You have to connect something else they like to sports.
In the state the NSFs are at this point, awards, trophies and titles do not matter to them. But drama, suspense, controversy, excitement, passion—these are all things they can attach to.
They may not care who Cleveland State is, but they might care the underdog No. 13 seed beat a No. 4 seed that you might have picked going deep into the bracket (stupid Wake Forest).
Because let's face it: When the underdog wins, everybody wins. It's human nature to cheer for the little guy.
If you make them realize sports is more than just scores, rules and the occasional street riot, you've opened the door for sports to step inside.
Step Three—Help them discover a favorite team
No, don't go buy them a BoSox hat. There's already too many of those around anyway.
Try to instill in them a sense of pride in a team. If they're in college, lead them to feeling proud of their sports program (unless they go to school in the state of Washington—ouch).
Because after all, if you go to the University of Wyoming, you're a Cowboy.
If you are lucky enough to be attending the University of Nebraska with me, you're a Husker.
And if you go to Oglethorpe University (Atlanta, Ga.), you're a Stormy Petrel.
A. For male NSFs, try to use location to your advantage. If most of the guys at the bars you go to with your NSF friend are Phillies fans, try to get him to like the Phillies so he has an automatic connection. Or, in extreme cases, food can be the biggest motivating factor: "Hey man, lets roadtrip to Kansas City to eat great barbecue, then maybe catch the Chiefs game." (Tailgating might also be a successful inroad using food.)
B. For female NSFs, try to find a team's mascot they would think is "ridiculously cute" and use that. Or do your best (maybe with a sports girl's help) to find a team with a color set the NSF will find inviting. Or, as a last resort, ask your SF girl friends which team has really hot guys your NSF would like.
Having a team to follow and players to begin to care about means your NSF is close.
Step Four—Don't give up
Even if your friend is a bandwagon-esque sports fan, it has brought them closer to becoming an SF than ever before. Stick with it.
Listen to them talk about a team they barely know like they've been fans for years. Overlook the fact they forgot the team's most bitter rival. Be patient when they try to understand the difference between a fly pattern and an end-around.
Because your friend is slowly getting there. Like how OU may not have been able to win their bowl games in the last five seasons, but they will eventually (they hope). At least their men's and women's college hoops are great.
Your friend is developing what I call "fanliness," kind of like manliness but inclusive of the wonderful women who love sports as much if not more than guys. (Love you, ladies.) Like a plant, your friend's fanliness will continue to grow given time and encouragement from their sports connection (that's you).
The other side to not giving up is also knowing when to move on to the next project.
Some NSFs are hopelessly hopeless. They'll never like sports no matter what you do. These are the people you avoid, unless there is another overwhelming advantage to being their friend. (For instance, money does not buy happiness, but it DOES buy tickets.)
If your friend will not become an SF, recognize that and begin again with step one on someone else.
But, if all else fails and none of these steps have worked:
Step Five—Get new friends
Like I said in the beginning, none of my friends from college are sports fans. I was bored waiting for the Oklahoma-North Carolina game to start, so I made up this step-by-step list that has gone through absolutely ZERO field-testing.
If it works, great. If not, and you find you must have SF friends, ditch your current ones and make new friends.
In all seriousness, any suggestions you might have on how to turn my NSF friends into SFs would be very welcome.
Thanks for the read, and you have no idea how much I missed you, Bleacher Report.
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