4 Rules for Discussing Sports (When you know very little).Posted: June 3, 2009
This post is meant for the causal viewer of sports. Those who wish to to remain relevant in a sports conversation (say among a group of colleagues/partners/higher-ups/etc.).
You desire to be included and engaged in the office or lunch time sports discussion. You watch the big games but generally sports viewing is not a dominate factor in your life.
To help me, and you, I brought in an expert, Mr. There’s Always Next Year (TANY) himself, and after much discussion we came up with the following four rules:
- Be first;
- Stay current;
- No bold pronouncements; and
- Know when to exit.
Stay ahead of the conversation.
Instead of the waiting for the conversation to include you, make a brief opening statement. For instance TANY suggests asking a generalized question like “what do you think of the playoffs (currently referencing the NBA)?” However, you should know SOME detail (see Rule 2, Staying Current). TANY states, “You should at the very least know what sports are in season at a particular moment.”
In another example involving golf , you could ask if Tiger Woods is having a good season (make sure he’s playing). Or ask if he is playing this week? This shows some knowledge of current events in the sport while not forcing you to get into specific detail.
Whatever answer you receive, you’ll have a springboard for your next comment, which usually can be inferred based on their answer.
For the the novice, TANY suggests checking the standings of the sport “every once in awhile to see who is at the top, teams or individual players.”
Know who the biggest stars are and who they play for, and you should be able to BS your way around a sports conversation.
The bottom line here is in today’s world information, on ANYTHING, is at your fingertips in numerous ways. Instead of browsing Facebook, Perez, or Bossip.com first thing in the morning, scan ESPN (or turn it on while eating breakfast), do a quick scan of stories from the previous night. Get an RSS feed for a top sports blog or a follow a sports news group on twitter. It takes all of five minutes to digest talking points that could be used later that morning among your colleagues.
No bold pronouncements
TANY feels bold pronouncements like “that guys sucks” or “that team is going all the way” is a no no since usually you will be asked to support your position.
You want to to avoid any in-depth discussion which will most certainly reveal your ignorance. You want to skim the surface, or optimally, float above it.
Know when to retreat
The conversation went well. You successfully managed to remain relevant and have your presence acknowledged. Now it is time to leave. Always have an exit in mind. Look for natural breaks in the conversation to leave. You want to leave on your terms and not because the group has moved on without you.
The take away
The goal of these four rules is engagement in the most generalized way you can get away with. Keep in mind there will be times when you cannot get away with merely skimming the surface. In those situations it never hurts to admit your ignorance about particular subject. However this can be done in a way that minimizes damage to your inclusion in the conversation.
Saying things like you missed that game, or you’ve been caught up on a project, family, etc., are all viable options over saying “I don’t know.”
Special thanks to TANY.