With the long winter behind us and summer finally rolling around, it's prime time for getting together with the guys and cheering on your favorite sports teams. NHL and NBA playoffs are in full swing, the MLB season is now well underway, and this year we can even look forward to the FIFA World Cup beginning on June 12th, before the NFL Preseason.
While this may sound like nothing but good news, there's an under-appreciated flip side; loving wives and girlfriends the world over utter a collective groan as the snow melts and professional sports threaten to steal their partners - and just when the weather's gotten nice again. One-by-one, date nights get pushed aside by game nights, and the refrain of “but honey, it's game seven!” falls on progressively less sympathetic ears.
Never fear, conscientious sports-fans. We know that, in addition to being a die-hard fan, you also want to make sure to keep the love of your life happy, so let me be the first to say, you're in luck - there's a way to save your relationship AND catch all this summer's action: Enlist your girlfriend!
While the world of sports fanaticism has always been a male-dominated one, more women than ever are joining the ranks of sports fandom, and thankfully so! If your significant other isn't already on the bandwagon, here are a few suggestions to help you make your wife or girlfriend an ally in your favorite pass-time. By the time you've put these fun and easy policies to practice in your life you'll be able to share your summer obsession, with your sweetheart cheering and waving a giant foam hand by your side.
6 Draw Her Attention To How Damn Attractive the Players Are
One of the most obvious starting points to draw female interest in professional sports is that its stars are, more often than not, drop dead gorgeous. While it may seem like playing with fire to draw your girlfriend's attention to the sex appeal of our favorite sports stars, who, let's face it, are often among the pinnacles of male attractiveness, a harmless crush and some eye-candy is just what the doctor ordered to get her to devote the time to settling in for a whole game.
Ask her which player she finds the most attractive and elaborate on what else makes him great. Before you know it she'll be learning his jersey number, Googling his girlfriend, and getting up in arms about fouls or penalties against her crush. As an added bonus, you start a healthy dialogue on what she finds attractive in a man in a completely harmless and non-threatening context – after all, what are the odds of her crossing paths with her idol on the street some day? Not very good – we hope!
5 Make A Romantic Bet
There's a reason that fans all over the world participate in Fantasy Leagues, Playoff Pools and Predicting the Over-Under – it makes the game more interesting. Bets give you a reason to be invested (quite literally) even when your team isn't in the running. Why not take advantage of this phenomenon with your loved one? If she doesn't have a sporting allegiance, get her invested by making a romantic bet.
A sure-fire way to get her cheering is if a win for her team means a swanky dinner and a night out dancing at her favorite place, or a romantic night in, complete with back massage and flowers. It may seem cheesy, but it's win-win, and it gives you the perfect opportunity to showcase the exciting parts of the game to get her hooked in the long term, all while spending time together and fostering fun, light-hearted competition.
4 Focus On the Narrative, Not Just The Game
Being a fan is at its best when you're in tune with not only the in-game elements, but the ongoing narrative of a franchise throughout the season. A big playoff goal is made all the bigger knowing that the scorer's mother just passed away (as in the case of Martin St. Louis of the New York Rangers during their 2nd round matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL Playoffs) and inspiring stories like this offer a great in-road for women who are less familiar with the sport itself but who are usually great at engaging emotionally.
When a player makes a great pass, lean in and mention the fact that he was never expected to make it to the big leagues at only 5'8”, or that a particularly great save might silence critics concerned about a goalie's shaky start. It's always more fun to watch an underdog pull off a victory, or a particularly loathsome opponent get soundly beaten, so make sure to arm your girlfriend with the knowledge she needs to make it exciting.
3 Create A Girlfriend-Friendly Game Environment
Many women's opposition to their man's sports-crazed summers may in fact come from the environment more than from the game itself. It's easy to understand your wife being miffed when you'd rather spend an evening in a dank man-cave with your pals eating pork rinds than with her – so if you want to extend the olive branch, work at making the game atmosphere welcoming.
Make sure you're well stocked on all her favorite snacks, set up a comfy blanket and save her a prime spot next to you on the couch. Above all else, ditch any friends who won't be patient as you explain the subtleties of play – getting her hooked will take patience and understanding. Most importantly, extend the invitation by focusing on how much you'd like to share your love of the game with her.
2 Take Her Out To A Women's League Game
The marketing of major league sports are geared decidedly towards men, and in all the premier leagues the players themselves are all male, so it's easy to understand that women may feel undervalued in the game. However, there are lots of leagues throughout North America where fantastically skilled female athletes strut their stuff in all the major sports, and often tickets to their games are much more affordable and, regrettably, not nearly as well-attended as their male counterparts.
The best way to show your sensitivity to the very real problem of the under appreciation of women athletes is to take your sweetheart out to a game where she can see sports stars with whom she can identify, and to help her celebrate their excellence. The WNBA Season is just beginning, the ECWHL and CWHL offer Women's Hockey excellence from November to March, several leagues and tournaments are active each year for Women's Baseball, and the NWSL features 9 professional Women's Soccer teams throughout the US.
If there are no professional Women's teams in your area, check out opportunities to catch the nearest University teams play, or failing that, many Women's leagues have great online streaming options to watch their games.
1 Go Out And Play!
This one may be the simplest of all, but is guaranteed to give your sweetheart a better appreciation of the game: Go out together and play it yourself! The perfect remedy to all that time you've been spending sitting in front of the TV is to go out, buy her a baseball glove and take her down to the park for a picnic and a game of catch.
Pick up a ball and shoot hoops in the driveway, or lend her your stick and a tennis ball and practice shooting on the garage door. The only way to get a feel for the exhilaration of a good game is by playing it yourself, and this is the sort of quality time that improves the relationship of any couple, independent of their love of the game.
Tossing a ball back and forth, you're sharing something, working together towards a common goal and distancing the game from its competitive side. Besides, once she's spent an afternoon trying to pot the soccer ball into that perfect spot in the top corner, she'll have a much better sense of the awesome athleticism that allows Lionel Messi to do it on a whim, after making a 30 foot run with the ball on a string.