How Some Women View Sports

My latest insight is probably not new to sports families.
Women watch sports differently than men.
At least some of us do.

For good reasons, probably. For one thing, many of us don't watch sports at all* or hardly ever, and that's different; we're not as engaged in the competition thing.

But the kids came over for dinner, and since the Chicago Bulls-- Boston Celtics playoff game happened to be on, we watched and ate. Or I should say, they watched and ate. I pretty much just ate, then slipped away to do a few other things.

Finally tired of doing whatever it was that needed doing, I joined them to find the game in over-time, double or triple overtime, and my son is screaming into his cell-phone, calling the plays to a friend of his in New York who for some reason is looking for an apartment, not glued to his set.

And my daughter-in-law is enjoying it too, along with the very long kid who lives with me, and everyone is cheering on the Bulls, for the Bulls are the Chicago home team and we're all Chicagoans. This rousing sense of unity makes me feel happy, and also makes me think that people should seriously consider marrying a hometown honey, or someone near enough to home, if only to cheer for the same team. This one thing we've got effectively eliminates a dangerous source of contention.

As long as I'm watching already, I notice that the men who play for the Bulls and the Celtics are absolutely gorgeous human specimens, tall, muscular, graceful athletes. This does add to the enjoyment of the game, this observation.

Anyway, one of the differences between the ways women and men watch basketball is that women are more likely to worry about the team members than the outcome of the game. We probably care way too much, is the truth. But watching these athletes over-exert themselves on the court (as well as elbow, shove, trip, and otherwise foul one another) is hard work, frankly. We don't want to see anyone get hurt. We want them to stop running and have a bite to eat. We want them to rest for awhile. We get angry at the coaches for working them so hard. These young men seem beyond tired at the end of nearly two hours of running. Over-time adds up.

The Bulls take the lead, they lose the lead.
They take the lead, they lose the lead.

I see one of our guys get the ball and race down the court, only to find the Celtics defense superior. There's no getting around the Bostoners, so the guys on the Bulls throw wildly, why not, anywhere within a mile of the basket will do. They miss points shamelessly, clearly ready to plotz. (Plotz, rhymes with pots, Yiddish for faint or fall down laughing hysterically, depending upon the context).

"Why are they doing this?" I ask the television set. "Why are they shooting from so far away? They're obviously too tired to make the basket, not strong enough at this point in the game." But what do I know?

My married son, the one on the phone, is irate and agrees. "Of course they are! They should be bringing it in, bringing that ball under the basket! They're exhausted!"

One of the Bulls, Kirk Hinrich, finds himself holding the ball at a crucial moment. They're all crucial. Kirk is free. No Celtics in sight. He's wide open, he rushes the basket. Everyone is sure he will make it. He blows the shot.

"Oh, no!" my d-i-l cries, not because he doesn't make the shot, but because she feels terrible for him. Everyone will spleen him now, be mad at him for missing the shot.

This is how women see sports. "They're not going to let him live it down," she moans. "Poor guy."

And the men in the room agree, although they're not sympathetic, particularly. Kirk messed up. It was a crucial play and he blew it.

Then. Out of nowhere. Joakim Noah, another one of our guys, a really big one with big fuzzy hair pulled back in a fabulous ponytail, you can't imagine him not having this ponytail, charges down the court with confidence, determination, and incredible speed, ball under his arm. He makes the game winning shot, slams it mercilessly through the hoop, brute strength. So fabulous. The cameras are on Noah, the crowd's going wild. I've never seen him before in my life but I'm watching his face and it is humble and warm. He's sweet. And he seems quiet, tired.

"I'll bet he's nice to his mother," I suggest.

No one says anything, but they probably agree.


*Sure, it's a stereotype.


DF said…
Well, Joakim's breakaway actually happened before Kirk's blown layup, but I give you props (especially for getting all the names right!) It was a fun night at the house.
therapydoc said…
What Lakers? Who are the Lakers? Are they Minnesotans? Are they any good? :)
JJ said…
I have to say, I don't watch sports at all like you say women do. If you're enough of a fan of the sport, then the overall game supercedes individual players. Of course, I do root for my favorite players, but just as often I root against players I don't like. Case in point, Joakim Noah... I've been rooting against him since his days at Florida.
therapydoc said…
That's because he's the guy everyone loves to hate, right?
blognut said…
Oh, TD. You know I never argue with you, right? But... just this time... a slight disagreement... ever so slight.

I've never seen a woman watch sports the way you've described here, and I'd probably have to ask you the leave the room if you started nurturing the players. I'm sorry. Truly, I am. Would we still be able to be friends?

I'm all about nurturing the players, and feeling badly for the ones who are about to be spleened, but NOT UNTIL AFTER THEY WIN.

therapydoc said…
As the song goes, How could you believe me when I say I love you when you know I've been a liar all my life? (Fred Astaire, Jane Powell)

Or something like that.

Of course I'm teasing in this post.
kirsten said…
In my house, men and women respond very differently to the outcome of the game. When the home team loses, the women don't scream and yell, they move onto the next thing. Yardwork, dinner, reading a book. The men watch the losing moments with a lot of profanity and otherwise loud outburst-ing, and their day is ruined. Possibly tomorrow too.

And the call thing - only men seem to feel the need to call each other during the game. Again there is lots of profanity and loud outburst-ing.
Mark said…
A funny and interesting perspective. Not a sports fan myself.
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Aubrey said…
Haha, I have agree with this post... COMPLETELY!
Ella said…
Male therapist, at my appt on Wed, asked me if was familiar with the Bulls and the Celtics are proceeded to give me an example from the game of all the shots that looked so simple but the Bulls missed them anyway...that was supposed to relate to my life in some way....
Retriever said…
Nice post. I like the happy family picture, and agree that it's nice to be rooting for the same team.

The only sport I watch with any real passion and intellgence is the only one I was good at: marathon running. I can sit watching one for six hours, totally engrossed. TV coverage of such things is minimal. I like the stories about individuals, training regimes, grannies runing at 80 and couples getting married running. But mostly I just like watching all those individuals running faster and harder than they ever can normally because of the crowds cheering them on and each other. So many self-sacrificing moments when a ferocious competitor will stop to help up a fallen co-runner and run slowly beside them coaching them to stay in the race (losingi time themself to do so). I am completely uninterested in the top runners. I love the gifted amateurs. To brag: in grad school I was the third fastest women runner (long-distance) in my state. I sucked at short distances. In the MarineCorps Marathon I felt great passing gorgeous hunky in shape Marines, all 5 foot 3 of me!

But as far as other sports go? I don't think I have ever felt nurturing of the players. Football and basketball bore me (I never played them). I love baseball and (dare I say it to a CHicagoan) my beloved Red Sox. Mostly I watch sports, when I do, to admire the handsome men. I don't like 300 pounders with thick necks. The type cast Robert Redford or Kevin COstner movie kind of baseball player looks pretty good to me....I don't like gladiators or earrings or tattoos or long hair.

I guess I am shallow and frivolous!
Lisa Marie said…
Haha.. I totally see where you are coming with sympathizing with the players. My gosh, being from Dallas, when Romo mishandled the snap a part of my heart died.... it was tragic and I felt so bad for him! Was I upset we lost, sure, but I was more upset for him! Never thought about that before!
Anonymous said…
:) There's a wonderful episode of Dharma & Greg (random, hippie TV show from a while back) which I'm reminded of...

Dharma's husband takes her to her first football game and to get her interested he explains that it's "us" down there on the field. Dharma takes this literally and becomes a total fanatic, thinking that the team won't win unless she's present at the games, cheers them on constantly etc. She cries when one of 'her' players gets tackled, hugs other fans when someone scores.

Hyperbole, sure but still.
therapydoc said…
CK, I would love to see that one!
I'm not one for watching much basketball but I remember watching Joakim's father Yannick, win the French Open in the 80's. He was a fine specimen of a human being as well.

Enjoyed this post, Therapy Doc, and I do agree. I tend to watch sports worrying about the physical integrity of the players. Especially football. And I am ever so glad my son is not in the least interested in the sport.
Therapy Doc, I'm so with you all the way on this one!

Someday, when you have the time, I'd love to hear what you have to say on the whole competition thing.
Anna said…
TD, I really love the way you've described the game. "The one with the frizzy hair in a ponytail." NOW I know who that is, the name didn't mean anything to me.
I'm not so interested in basketball, but I fair pretty well in the other sports.
Cate Subrosa said…
This is absolutely 100% true of the way I watch sport. Brilliant.