Read the room, sports fans

Photo Credit: Mackenzie Gerry

Photo Credit: Mackenzie Gerry

Taxidermy isn’t something that most people are into. Some people find it gross. Others might be totally apathetic about it. Many would probably rather I not talk about skinning an animal to display above my bed as small talk on the way in to work.

I understand this. I am not a taxidermist and would probably also eschew conversation about preserving animal carcasses, as it’s just not for me. I’ve yet to meet anyone who talks to great lengths about taxidermy, especially not when everyone else is clearly not interested. Weird, isn’t it? It’s almost like people with niche interests acknowledge that others aren’t always down to talk about said interests.

So, why do people keep talking about sports to me?

I am so tired of being in the middle of a group conversation only to end up sitting, staring blankly into space making up a grocery list in my head while people talk about sports. I totally get checking in about the basketball game if you know someone else likes basketball. But sports is by far the topic I’ve most often seen people discuss in a group setting despite alienating some members of said group. Then they do it again and again until I die of old age or boredom.

I am often the coworker who did not see the game last night whose eyes glaze over when people start talking about tries and hat tricks and fouls. I try to engage, but I’m genuinely just not interested in watching other people play sports. Also, I find the injuries gruesome and I do not ever, and I mean ever, want to see a video on your phone of a hockey player getting slashed with a skate or a basketball player break her leg. Not only is that gross, but now I’m worried about their health and it really isn’t my business.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t totally hate sports. I did intramural badminton, I’ve played some soccer, watched some games and all that jazz. I just hate that so many people don’t seem to read the room when they talk about sports.

Actually, that isn’t quite right either. Most of the times that I’ve been trapped in some discussion about sports, the people around me are well aware that I am not a sports person. I do not care about the stats or the replays and Baseball Guy #18 pitching left-handed is not a fact I want or need in my life. People know that I am not someone to talk to about these things. Yet they persist, blocking me from conversations I’m already in and usually would look like a jerk leaving. Why?

Sports fanatics just don’t seem to have that same understanding others with niche interests have that not everyone wants to hear about what tool they use to pull the flesh off of a raccoon. It’s this idea that being way into professional sports is normal and the rest of us should adapt. It’s an entitlement that makes people hijack conversations — a sense that they deserve to take up that conversational space however they please, others be damned. It’s a form of entitlement I am not here to support. Enjoying watching human-hit-ball-with-stick does not automatically make you a superior being more deserving of conversational space than me.

Another clarifying point: I am not attacking discussions about fitness and wellness. These are pretty universal, as everyone does practice wellness in some way. Also, people tend to be less domineering about fitness. I have yet to hear a yoga instructor derail a conversation to do a play-by-play of their last class for an unwilling captive audience.

I will conclude this with some small, parting advice: be more like taxidermists. Read the room and respect my disinterest.

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