From the Basement: “Not like other girls”

In my experience as a woman who likes sports, I have found three typical responses from men to my mentioning of any type of knowledge pertaining to the field. This is not to say that every guy responds in one of these ways, since that would be a stereotype of the same nature as the one I am trying to dispel here, but it is just a summary of some trends I have noticed.

  • A belittling remark

If you look at my contribution history to The Hullabaloo, you’ll notice that most of what I write is about basketball, and about the Cleveland Cavaliers specifically. When I bring up how much I love the team in real life (which is a lot), I am often met with a condescending smile and something about how I “only like them because I’m into LeBron.” Is it true that I know and am absolutely enamored by the fact that LeBron married his high school sweetheart, has three adorable kids, and is quite possibly the nicest man on earth? Obviously.

But I also know that he is the only player to have averaged a triple double in the Finals, is potentially on track to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most total points in NBA history and literally alley-ooped to himself in the 2018 NBA Finals.

I am sure that this experience holds true for other female sports fans, who are assumed to just have a crush on Tom Brady, Alexander Ovechkin and the like.

The point is, I sometimes feel that I need to “prove” my knowledge by listing some obscure fact about sports just so a guy believes I am a real fan, which doesn’t really seem like something I should have to do.

  • Complete disregard

This one is similar to when you tell a joke and no one laughs, so you think people simply didn’t hear you. Then you realize it just wasn’t funny. Sometimes I try to contribute to a conversation about sports, and I am completely ignored, while the guys go on talking about it and sometimes even say something I just previously stated.

This response definitely occurs the least often in my experience, and it might really be a function of people not hearing me (plus, some people are just rude).

  • Amazement

This one is probably the most common, in terms of what I have experienced and from what other female sports fans have shared with me. Typical responses of this kind include, but are not limited to, the following:

“Wow, you’re the only girl I know who would know that.”

“I can’t believe you just said that.”

“I love when girls like sports!”

And the infamous: “You’re not like other girls.”

This is a weird one, because I think it is meant as a compliment. Sometimes I begin to feel flattered, but then I have to think about the implications. So often it seems like compliments to a woman are at the expense of other women, and this is no different. I don’t want to be respected because I know more about sports than other girls, I just want to be respected.

The moral of the story is I am exactly like other girls, I just happen to enjoy sitting in front of the TV watching basketball and browsing r/NBA in my free time – things that really aren’t that impressive.

Once again, I would like to emphasize this is not meant to be an attack on men, but rather a voicing of some frustrations. I am fully aware that there are other double standards upon which men are subjugated and stereotyped. In general, we just all need to be a little more mindful of the what the things we say insinuate.

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