Let me just put a few things in context by saying one thing: Bloggers aren't very good at giving advice.
Frankly, I think they're awful at it. And the one thing that gets under my skin the most --as a writer and someone who advocates writing as a good practice for anyone-- are male writers dispensing advice to women. Generally the worst form of it comes as "relationship advice" dispensed by self-styled smooth talkers to the woman on how to reel in her man. I think these non-experts should get over themselves, as one of the writers at Six Brown Chicks intimated so brilliantly today.
Separately, a few months ago I pitched a piece for a national magazine that I do some writing for here and there. The editor liked what I had written and asked for a little more in the second re-write. However, it seemed the topic stumped them a little and in the end they weren't really sure what to do with it.
The topic: Talking sports with women, and treating the female fan as an equal. Not being patronizing. And not acting surprised when you find out that she knows more than you about baseball, hockey, or sports in general.
I suppose I felt compelled to pen a short form playbook (so to speak) because of the simple fact that I know a ton of women who not only follow sports with a passion, but still get the “Whoa, you’re into sports?” thing.
For men, I’d just say to continue to love sports, but forget what you think you know. And don't take my advice, take theirs.
Here are some tips passed on from some of the women I know who know a ton about sports, and probably more than you. This isn't pick-up advice, just smart conduct.
First, recognize that women love sports. Don't act surprised.
You’ve probably noticed that the concept of sports bars took off successfully long ago. This phenomenon is a credit the fact that both men and women love sports and social settings. So, don’t treat the die-hard sports fan in the woman you meet like an endangered species.
"I think way too much has been made out of women sports fans," said Julie DiCaro, a contributor to the Chicago Tribune's Redeye and Founder/CEO of the all-women blog network, Aerys Sports. She said that in 2013, women are as likely to be checking smartphones for up-to-the minute scores as you are.
“Men are always astonished that I can hang with them,” she said. “Today’s women are the daughters of Title IX. Sports are just as much a part of our lives”.
Moreover, DiCaro points out that fans identify hometown pride with a sports association. Chicago may have once been known for Al Capone, but no longer.
"I grew up watching Walter Payton and Michael Jordan like any other kid here,” DiCaro said. “Why wouldn't I like sports?" For both genders, sports is in the blood.
Next: Engage, and be interested in her take.
She may be an expert or a more casual fan. And whether or not she can name the Lakers all-time leading scorer, she has a heart for sports that runs deep.
Julia Rosenwinkel, a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, has her own angle. For starters, Rosenwinkel, a roller derby star with the Windy City Rollers, said she is familiar with usual pickup lines. But she notes that substance is important.
"Sometimes a woman loves to talk stats and line-ups. If so, indulge her,” Rosenwinkel said. More importantly, she tells sports men to get to know your audience and be real.
Cubs fan Julia doesn't want your pity beers.
"I love baseball. I like to watch it, talk about it, and read about it. Ask me about the last great baseball book I read." she said. "Or if you know a great baseball story, tell me about that." Most importantly, she hints that men must realize that women are very smart creatures.
"Don't be the dude who opens a pretend conversation when all you really want to know is if I'm single," Rosenwinkel said. "Talk your love of the game, and bring your intellectual stamina."
Remember: A little trash talk is OK, but don’t go overboard.
Sometimes there's nothing more endearing than a little teasing humor in an otherwise normal conversation. But don’t think you will impress a woman with harsh criticisms.
"The foolish men who pick on my team, they've got it all wrong," said Sunny Doench, a TV/film actress and lifelong Ohio State Buckeyes fan. Doench says good old-fashioned rivalry is fine. But going too far with tactics like personally trashing a player can backfire.
"That only gets you a long, slow, shake of the head," Doench says. "Ripping my team is like ripping my family. As a woman, it's my "off" switch." On the other side of the coin, Rosenwinkel indicates you’d better bring it.
“Over a hundred years of losing, all I have is hope. I have a lot of experience with "You're a Cubs fan? So sorry, can I buy you a beer?” She feels learning howto spar with White Sox fans is a baseball rite of passage. Knowing it may be years (or light years, perhaps) before breaking The Curse of The Billy Goat, Rosenwinkel hasn’t given up.
“I have a while before I'm willing to accept pity beers,” she says to men wanting to talk baseball. “Ask me about my team, you'll get a lot farther! “
And, you think sports is emotional? So does she.
For men, sports is a safe haven of comfort when we're down. A visit to Wrigley, Cameron Stadium or a sports bar remedies a bad day. Women get this, and live it too.
"One summer, I experienced a trio of traumatic deaths and had no idea which way was up," Rosenwinkel shared. "An old friend gave me 30 of his day game bleacher tickets. I just sat by myself and watched baseball. I made friends. I taught kids how to get balls, and caught a few myself." Baseball was part of her healing process. To DiCaro, sports is like oxygen.
Sunny simply says don't diss her fam.
“What do I get out of following my teams?” DiCaro asks. “I wish I knew. Possibly the satisfaction that, when the Cubs eventually go all the way, I'll have been in it for the long-haul.”
Still, there's one more important part of the syllabus that is important to note.
Lastly, don't be an asshole.
That one is pretty self-explanatory.
Frye writes for ESPN.com, Fiveonfive Magazine, and DerbyLife.com. Follow on Twitter at @MySportsComplex.