Code Red: your friends have just asked you to go watch “the big game” with them. Not only do you have no idea what “game” they are talking about, but that cute new guy is coming and you’re about to totally humiliate yourself by your complete lack of sporting knowledge. What do you do? Run? Fake sick? No, you have to do this. Cute, new guy is counting on you, you can do this.
Here’s my complete guide to faking knowing about sports.
Step 1: Find out who is playing. This is the easy part; it tells you right there on the TV screen. Next, put some feelers out with your audience before choosing the team you’re going to root for. Again, this should be pretty simple. Hint: check your friends for certain colored clothing or team paraphernalia.
Step 2: Get on the internet and find out some quick basics. Just the most popular players’ names, maybe some quick headlines. Search engines are your new best friend for the next few hours. (And yes, the games will last hours).
Step 3: Prepare yourself by listening to what other people are saying about the game, memorize that, and whip it out whenever you can. This can take you far, my friend. One of my best phrases from last football season was taken from my dad, “He’s a running quarterback and this is a passing team, they’re just not on the same page.” I don’t know what team he was talking about, or what it means to be a “passing team”, but that little gem got me through the regular season and several bowl games. This is also a good one: “They’ve got a lot of momentum right now, and I think it can carry them far through the season.” (My response every time someone asks me what I think about the next Ole Miss game.) Pro tip: be vague, if you’re using the right vocabulary, it doesn’t matter if you don’t actually say anything.
Step 4: Know the jargon. This one will take some studying, but I’ll help you out. Here are a few that I’ve found helpful (courtesy of the Glossary of American Football via Wikipedia.com).
- First down: The first of a set of four downs. Usually, a team which has a first down needs to advance the ball 10 yards to receive another first down, but penalties or field position (i.e. less than 10 yards from the opposing end zone) can affect this.
- Fumble: A ball that a player accidentally lost possession of
- Interception: The legal catching of a forward pass thrown by an opposing player
- Extra point: A single point scored in a conversion attempt by making what would be a field goal during general play
- Offside: An infraction of the rule that requires both teams to be on their own side of their restraining line as or before the ball is put in play. Offside is normally called on the defensive team during a scrimmage down and on the kicking team during free kick downs
There’s a bunch of other stuff too. But hey, we’re beginners here.
Step 5: This is the easiest part. As the game is going on, be aware of your surroundings. When your friends, or the people in the same color as you start cheering, CHEER. When the fans of the other team cheer, DO NOT CHEER. If anything, this is a great opportunity for an eye-roll or a well thought out scoff, this will make you look extra “into it.”
Special tips for Ole Miss fans, when all else fails, say bad things about Starkville and Mississippi State, always a crowd pleaser.
Hopefully these five easy steps will allow you to face Cute Guy and the looming distress that every sporting event brings. You can do this. Because all in all, it doesn’t matter how much you really know, but how realistically you can fake it.