Hey – we may as well have fun as we go sliding into old age, right?

Archive for the ‘Sports and Life’ Category

Learn to Speak “ESPN”, Ladies!

Fenway Park, Home of the Boston Red Sox

I have come to the conclusion that in business, talking sports can be a really good idea for women.  Before I go any further, let me throw out a few disclaimers here.  Rest assured that I am NOT a proponent for women “acting like a man” to get ahead in business.  I think women bring their own special gifts to the workplace, and that we can succeed just fine by acting like ourselves.  Don’t allow anyone to patronize you or dismiss you in any way.  And yes, I understand that there are plenty of men who could care less about sports, and that’s just fine, too.    

But business is all about relationships, and the best way to build a relationship is to find areas you have in common with the other person.  When you’re a woman in the business world, sports is usually a great ice-breaker.  I discovered this by accident years ago.  I always was a sports fan to a certain degree.  I am particularly enamored with NASCAR racing.  People are always surprised by that – I refer to myself as a “closet redneck”.  I’m watching the race in Pocono as I type this.  Seriously.

Anyhow…I was sitting in the break room at the large call center where I was a manager about ten years ago, having lunch with some of the male managers there.  It was a Monday, and one of the guys mentioned the weekend’s auto race.  He said something disparaging about “my” driver’s involvement in an accident, and I jumped in with a detailed rebuttal explaining why it was really some other guy’s fault.  Along with the surprised looks of “hey, she knows NASCAR!”, I saw something else in the eyes of these guys who were always polite but never exactly friends.  They were looking at me like I suddenly existed.  If you’re a working woman, you know what I mean.  When I saw them looking at me with that strange expression (“Who is this woman?” “Why didn’t we know she was cool before?”), a light bulb went off. 

But not all guys love NASCAR, so I decided to experiment.  I’d sit with the guys and jump into their conversations about baseball, football, basketball, whatever was the sports du jour.  And here’s what I learned then, and since then.

1.        Don’t fake it.  There may be times when you can fake it with men (get your mind out of the bedroom – I’m talking about the times we refer to our brand new shoes as “what, these old things?”).  Sports isn’t one of those times when you can fake it.  Don’t say you saw the fantastic play they’re talking about unless you really saw it (even if it was just in highlights).  It’s okay to say “Yeah, I heard about that catch – they said it was awesome!”.  Don’t gush about what a great game it was just because you saw the score and the home team won.  It’s embarrassing to find out that the win came at the cost of the best player being injured, or that they blew a 10-point lead and barely hung on for the win.  Yes, it’s a win, but it’s what’s referred to as “an ugly win”.  You don’t brag about ugly wins.  You breathe sighs of relief that the team pulled it off.  Learn the lingo, ladies.

2.       Pick a team to cheer for.  You’ll look like an idiot if you rave about how much you love baseball, and then, when one of the guys asks you which team you follow, you gush “oh, I love them all!”  Only dweebs say that.  You’d be much better off saying you don’t follow the sport.  It’s always a safe bet to back the hometown team.  But don’t say you follow them if you’re not ready to do at least a little homework (learn a few names, watch the local scores, etc.).  If you really want to stand out and be bold, then follow a different team than everyone else.  But if you’re going to do that, be ready to take the heat and the “trash talk” (that’s sports lingo for someone belittling you and everything you stand for to throw you off your game).  And also be ready to step it up – you’d better really know your stuff if you’re going to be a Red Sox fan in Yankee country.  Trust me, I know this first-hand. 

3.       Watch ESPN. Really.  You don’t have watch it 24/7.  You don’t have to watch entire games.  But watch “SportsCenter”.  The show runs basically all the time.  Not exactly, but it seems that way – they’ve run more than 30,000 episodes.  It’s on and off throughout the day (and night).  It’s the “CliffNotes” version of the sports world, and you can learn a lot in just one 10 minute segment.  If you want to know enough sports to sound authentic, just watch 10 – 20 minutes of “SportsCenter” every morning.  The show quickly runs through multiple sports headlines, and shows the best and worst plays of the day/week/whatever in their “Top Ten” and “Not Top Ten” clips.  A nice plus is that it’s also pretty entertaining, with some good humor.  Watching it won’t kill any brain cells, I promise.

4.       Be prepared to surprise yourself.  As I’ve mentioned, I never considered myself a true sports fan – other than the stock car thing.  Okay – I’ve always loved the beautiful corny poetry of American baseball in general (confession: “Field of Dreams” is my favorite movie ever), but I really didn’t follow specific teams.  When I met my Boston-raised husband, I was instantly brought into the world of Red Sox baseball, Patriots football, and Celtics basketball (I just can’t get into hockey…).  So those became “my teams” when I wanted to talk sports.  I don’t live in Boston.  I live in New York.  So I have taken a fair amount of heat.  I had to keep up with the teams to hold my own.  And a funny thing happened.  I started to really enjoy it!   Okay, it helps that all three teams have won at least one championship in the past few years (the best way to shut up the trash talk is to win), but even in the tough years, I’m still having fun.

I have learned that guys aren’t aliens when they start talking sports.  Sports can be cool.  Don’t just walk away when the sports talk starts, or when ESPN pops up on the television screen.  And, if you want to learn how to open conversations at work, or in any public setting where you want to build relationships (like the corner bar…), learn at least a little bit about sports.  Keep yourself up to date by scanning the headlines and watching a little “SportsCenter” .  You’ll be surprised what some sports knowledge can do for you, and you may even find yourself liking it!

Why Women Can’t Golf With Their Husbands

Golfing In Tullamore, Co. Offaly, Ireland (note sheep in background!)

Okay – this one is for the guys.  Ladies – feel free to forward and share it with your husbands or significant others.  This is for all those guys who are out there dreaming of retiring to a golf community in central Florida somewhere, thinking that they and their wives will join the couples’ leagues and enjoy all kinds of activities revolving around the game of golf.    

It’s sad really, because so many of them will never achieve those retirement life dreams, and they won’t even know why.   But really, it’s their own fault.  Men make it nearly impossible for many women to enjoy the golf course, at least when their husbands are on the same links.

Don’t golf?  Feel free to apply the same general principles outlined here to any activity which, if done with your spouse, is bound to lead to tension – bowling, tennis, wallpapering, etc.

It’s not too late, fellas, but there are a few things you really need to understand.  If you can figure out why we won’t golf with you now, you can make a few “adjustments” and try again.  We’re always willing to give you a mulligan or two.

 THREE REASONS WE WON’T GOLF WITH YOU

 1.        You can’t stop “helping” us. 

We know you mean well – really we do. And we try to keep that in mind…But. You. Are. Driving. Us. Crazy. 

I know it’s because of that whole Mars/Venus thing – you really can’t help yourselves.  Men want to fix things.  The end of the race is the whole point of running.  Women want to connect emotionally to everything we do.  We want to enjoy our journey to the finish line.  That means women have totally differently approaches to something like golf than men do. 

We want to think, practice, and feel our way to a better game.  To you, it’s all science.  “Flex your knees.”  “Turn your hands over.”  “Keep your elbows in.”  “Follow through.”  “Not so far back.”  “Not so far forward.”  “Don’t chop it.”  “Stop trying to kill it.”  And my personal favorite – “Keep your head down!”

By the time we get to the third or fourth hole, you’ve filled us with so many instructions that we can’t even think straight, much less hit straight.  Then you yell at us to stop “thinking so much” before we swing, when you’re the one that paralyzed us in the first place! 

And if we do hit a terrific shot, what’s your response?  “Nice!  Now swing just like that every time!”  Um, if we could do that, we’d be on the LPGA tour.

SOLUTION:  Shut up and stay out of our heads!  We’re golfing with you because we want to be with you and have fun.  Give us advice when we ask for it, but keep your lips sealed when we’re standing at the tee.  If we really need that much help, send us to a pro for lessons.  We won’t take feedback so personally when it’s coming from a professional teacher.  And if we hit a shot anywhere in or near the fairway, tell us it was a great shot.  Even if it’s in the wrong fairway.  Practice the words right now – “great shot, honey!” 

2.        You think we’re much better than we really are (or want to be).

It’s amusing sometimes, the confidence you have in us.  One minute you’re scolding us for “topping” the ball and blowing our approach to the green.  The next minute, you’re strolling across the same green and tapping a spot with your golf club – “Chip it right here, honey!”  Yeah, okay.  Do I look like Annika Sorenstam to you?  “Aim it just to the left of that pine tree out there.”  Uh-huh.  We’re happy if we’re more than 60 yards off the tee and still in view of the fairway, and now you want to confine us to a specific ten foot diameter target? 

SOLUTION:  It’s okay to give us advice, but keep it attainable.  “Try to keep it to the left” is much more acceptable than “Hit it ten yards to the left of the third pine tree and make sure you get it past that little ridge on the right.” 

3.       You can’t stop taking golf seriously.

We’re beating little white balls around a golf course with sticks, not creating world peace.   Yes, the game has to move along, and we can’t be too silly on the golf course.  But it really is acceptable to look around and enjoy the scenery once in while.  When we say “look, an eagle!,” we’re not talking about the play of the foursome on the next green.  We’re probably talking about the flying kind of eagle with feathers, up in the sky.  If we completely whiff a ball (swing and miss it), it’s okay to laugh, as long as we laugh first.  It is NOT okay to launch into a diatribe about keeping our head down, watching the ball, concentrating, and getting serious.  If a par 5 hole is frustrating us, and we’re not in a tournament, it’s okay for us to pick up our ball and just watch you play.  There are no golf gods who will strike us dead for doing so (trust me, I know this).

SOLUTION:  Lighten up.  We know golf is your life, but it’s our hobby (and sometimes barely that).  Save your competitive nature and testosterone for your leagues and tournaments, and enjoy a relaxing round of golf with your wife.  Hold our hand when we’re riding in the cart.  Smile once in a while.  Tell us how sweet our swing is.  Don’t act frustrated, even if you are.    

You may not have a wife with a 12 handicap (and if you do, congrats!).  But if someone forwarded this to you, it means you have a woman who WANTS to golf with you.  There are a lot of guys out there (and I mean A LOT) who would give their left arm to have a woman who wanted to golf and was willing to consider that golf community for a retirement destination.  Once my husband learned to lighten up (I think it was shortly after he realized that he was pushing my last button while I was carrying a long metal club), we started to actually have fun golfing together.  We’ve golfed on the South Carolina coast, watching dolphins and eagles from the course.  We’ve golfed in the Adirondack mountains, with deer strolling across the fairways.  We’ve golfed in Ireland, on the breathtaking western cliffs (in bitter cold weather!) and in beautiful Tullamore in the heart of the country. 

Come on, gents – that’s pretty cool stuff.  So…lighten up, shut up, and stop ‘helping’.  Send us to a pro, help us relax, and have fun golfing with us.

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