Hello, TipOff-a-teers! No, wait, that doesn’t really work. Tipsters? Team TO? Hmm...
There’s a lot of sports going on, like always (except most of August most years, let’s be real here). And TipOff is not going to be able to cover all of it. (But if you like the writing and ever want to, I don’t know, hire me for something, or just want to share how this periodic email has helped you kick your nasty drug habit and work your way up from the mailroom to become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
So if you want to be covered even if TipOff isn’t covering something, here are some surefire, ongoing ways to trick your peers into thinking you like sports. Who knows, you might even trick yourself. Hey, new fun thing! The ways:
Pick a team to follow. Keeping track of everything that’s happening in a whole league takes time, and it can take a while just to figure out what’s going on. Following a single team is much easier, and most sports fans -- including whoever you’re trying to impress -- focus on a specific team anyway. Word to the wise, if you’re picking a brand new team, don’t pick one that happens to be great right now (like the suddenly-favored-to-win-the-NBA-championship Los Angeles Clippers, unless maybe you live in L.A.). It’s too easy, and nobody likes that person. But don’t pick a team that’s historically awful, unless of course you’re a masochist (so, steer clear of the New York Knicks. It’s too late for me, but you can save yourself).
Ask your sports fan friend the deal. There are tons of articles, tweets, YouTube compilations, and whatever-TikTok-is created about sports every day. The tricky part is knowing enough baseline information to make sense of it all. The good news is your sports fan friend will love explaining it all from scratch to you. If you were to ask me to tell you about the Knicks of the ‘90s -- when they were actually good -- you’d have to eventually ask me to stop.
Read Wikipedia. Seriously. Who won the last 5 Super Bowls? Who’s the all-time NBA leading scorer? Does Serena Williams have the record for most Grand Slams yet or what? Whatever you don’t know, the internet does. I just typed “most points scored nba wikipedia” into Google and clicked on the first link, and within seconds would’ve gained a better appreciation -- if I didn’t have it before -- of just how special it is to be able to watch LeBron James right now.
Check a couple of sports websites regularly. Watching games takes forever, especially if it’s not your thing (but, of course, it can also be really fun -- that’s kind of the point). But skimming the headlines on espn.com, deadspin.com, and your local paper’s sports page as part of your hourly internet procrastination at work takes seconds, and keeps you in the know (as long as you have that baseline context).
Don’t be intimidated. I love NBA basketball, and I can’t tell you Michael Jordan’s career scoring average (I think a little over 32 points per game? Not checking). I might not even be able to tell you the full roster of those ‘90s Knicks teams I loved. Some fans have an encyclopaedic knowledge of sports trivia, but you don’t need that to follow along. It’s really all just stories anyway -- how the Boston Red Sox shed 86 years of ineptitude and frustration passed down through the generations to finally beat their arch-nemesis New York Yankees on their way to finally winning a World Series in 2004, etc. -- mixed with wonderfully insane feats of athleticism that are easy to appreciate (unless it’s a weird, boring sport like curling).
Always root against Duke, the Patriots, and the Yankees. Unless of course you’re in Durham, North Carolina; New England; or 3 of New York’s 5 boroughs, respectively. Then they’re the bees knees, a phrase people definitely still use.
And that’s it! Don’t you see? You had the sports fandom in you all along.