men, women, and the politics of sports

Karen Allendoerfer ravena at cco.caltech.edu
Thu Dec 19 00:43:25 EST 1996


In article <a-schmi-1812961320050001 at vortex.life.uiuc.edu>,
a-schmi at uiuc.edu (aloisia schmid) wrote:

> I have noticed one other thing though.  Sports.  Have any of you noticed
> that sports occupies the attnetion of alot of men in science?  

Surprisingly, not so much.  Although I did have to veto a basketball game
that some man wanted to turn on and watch at my going away party from my
thesis lab.  I decided it was my party, and I didn't want it co-opted by
people watching sports on the tube.  If they wanted to watch the game,
they could go home and do that.

> I have a friend whose husband hates sports.  He and I had a long
> discussion about this once.  I said that it had long been my belief that
> men use sports to meet each other and to jockey for position in
> professional circles.  That sports knowledge is respected and gives status
> in conversation.  But that it is a purely male thing and that women who
> know alot about sports don't ever REALLY have the same experience of using
> sports trivia in those situations that men do, because by virtue of who
> they are, they just can't do it. It's a guy thing.  This friend's wife
> thought that wasn't true, (she and I had been talking about this) and she
> was really surprised when he agreed with me.  He thinks that no woman can
> ever be taken credibly in a sports conversation, because she is a woman.

   Hmm.  I haven't had this experience, really.  I grew up in Buffalo, and
it's impossible to grow up in Buffalo and not be a Buffalo Bills fan. And
Bills fans somehow just know all the details of the four lost super bowls,
the missed field goal kick in 91, to the biggest 2nd half comeback in NFL
playoff history, blah blah blah . . . And I did my PhD in the Bay Area,
where the Niners fans are pretty thick on the ground, and became one.
   Admittedly this is a small subset of sports knowledge, but when talking
to male football fans, I don't feel particularly at a disadvantage, nor
that they don't listen to me.  Especially if my team is better than their
team (nanny nanny boo boo . . . )
   Anyway, when the men are out in the living room watching football, I
usually am too.  One thing I've found really surprising though, is the
occasional woman who just won't believe that I watch football because I
like it.  I was at an AWIS meeting in the Bay Area a few years ago, and
the football thing came up, the discussion went along as if all men loved
football and all women hated it, and I finally said "wait a minute, I like
football.  I go home Monday nights to watch the game,"  and the woman
leading the discussion looked me in the eye and said "yes, a lot of women
cultivate that to get along with men."  Sheesh, I would hope she would
give me a little more credit for independent thought than that.

Karen



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