How To: Pretend You Know Sports

First, a caveat: this is just a highlight reel (which is a term you probably already know, so we won’t go into it here). To really make it in any sports-related conversation, you’ll have to study up – statistics, players, teams, etc. But for everyone trying to place a veil over his or her ignorance while saddled next to a sports buff, here are a few tips.

Support the locals

All right, all right: yes, this is an article about faking it until you make it. But by making a modicum of effort to study your local team (especially the big names on the ASU teams) you’ve got yourself a nifty trump card.

Here’s a useful example:

Sports Fan A: “What do you, fellow sports aficionado, think about the legacy of the 1972 Miami Dolphins?”

You: “Golly, Sports Fan A. Tough to say. But here’s an even better question: Where do you think ASU football will be at in five years?”

Some vigorous head-nodding and a few completely-hear-where-you’re-coming-froms later, you’ve made it to halftime. 

Know the moves

“What is this?” you say. “I have to learn moves now too?”

“You are easily upset by tongue-in-cheek magazine articles,” I say. And I also say, “Not those kinds of moves!”

Pay attention to what the people around you are doing. There are a few things you can pretty easily categorize into bad and good: Did someone on your team score? Polite clap. Gentleman in the stripes blows a whistle or throws a flag while your team has the ball? “Oh, come on.”

For everything else: mimic the people sitting next to you. If you see the fans around you putting their hands on their heads in a show of frustration, you do likewise. It’s like an angry hokey-pokey.

Jeremy Lin

That is all you need to know. This man, a player for the New York Knicks (basketball), has quickly turned into a cultural touchstone. He’s also a gift sent down from the non-jock heavens – he’s really good, and leapt out of obscurity into the forefront. Folks also like to make puns out of his name – “linsanity” is the big one. So if you’re better at puns than sports trivia, change the topic to Mr. Lin and show off some verbal acrobatics linstead.

Know when to cash in your chips

There might be a time when you really can’t avoid the question any longer. Do not panic. Here’s what you do: Knock over a table and, arms flailing, run out of the house with your fingers in your ears.

Or, excuse yourself and head to the bathroom.Whatever buys you a minute.


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