What Was I Thinking? (or Why Your Girlfriend Doesn’t Like Basketball)
In the hours leading up to the Boston Celtics-Miami Heat game that would officially open the 2012-13 NBA season, my Twitter timeline was flooded with opinions, predictions, and for-your-information’s about the year to come. I could imagine the male population of the Philippines frothing at the mouth as the referee blew the whistle that signaled the beginning of another eight months of basketball.
As I sat down to watch my first ever—you read that right, first ever—NBA opening game on live television, a thought occurred to me: Why hadn’t I ever cared about this before? I mean, now that I’m getting a grasp of the game, I get how exciting it is. I understand the drama, the comedy, the awe. I recognize the tension that builds up as the game, and ultimately the season, progresses; it’s a tension that culminates in either the joy of victory or the bitterness of defeat.
But before I came to see these things through the eyes of a basketball fan, I didn’t see them at all. I was your average, uninterested woman, indifferent to the sport that could put the manliest men I knew on their knees and in tears at the toss of a ball.
I asked myself: What thoughts went through my head whenever I would sit through an extra half hour of basketball as a male friend would beg, “Just one more quarter”? What did I make of those big, muscled men running up and down the court after a little orange ball?
I came up with four thoughts I’m sure occurred to me in the days when I didn’t care, and I’ll risk generalizing to say that these are some of the things your non-fan girlfriend thinks about when you’re watching (what to her would be) another interminable game.
1. “What happened?” – often occurs when a foul is called. There was a foul? All we know is someone blew a whistle and then everyone just started milling around the court. And we missed the instant replay because we were checking the time and realizing that you/we were late for lunch/that movie/work because of a game. Again.
2. “Who’s that guy again?” – provoked by a number of instances: whenever a familiar-looking guy does something awesome or stupid, and they don’t say his name; whenever they show the list of names of who’s on the court and don’t show their faces; whenever they do a close-up of anyone (coach, former player, bench guys… everyone else) and don’t say his name; whenever we can’t remember who starred opposite Jen Aniston in that rom-com with the dog… oh, the game’s still on?
3. “How can he remember all those numbers?” – directed at you whenever you spout statistics or start a one-sided argument with the guys on TV about this or that player’s figures. We know what your grades were in college math. Yet here you are, able to pontificate—to the decimal—on the scoring, rebounding, assisting and blocking abilities of everyone from Kobe Bryant to Gilbert Lao without a kodigo. It makes no sense. (You know what, this is still a mystery to me.) And finally:
4. “YES!” – this thought is often vocally expressed. It occurs whenever your team scores; whenever the other team scores...but we think it was your team; whenever your team wins; and, of course, whenever the game ends. Often follows the thought, “Is it over yet?” Variations include “All right!”, “At last!”, and “Thank God!”
For the record, there are women out there who love basketball as much as, if not more than, any guy. But I’m sure many a lady would agree when I say that how most women feel about basketball is how most men feel about nail art, menstruation, putting the toilet seat down, and Glee—it’s incomprehensible.
That’s how I answer my first question: I didn’t care about basketball because I never understood it. I didn’t have a family member who introduced me to the sport early in life. I never played it (except for one horrible P.E. class in elementary school), never watched it on TV growing up, and only saw Space Jam because I liked Daffy Duck. I just happened to land a job where I needed know-how of basketball, so I took the time to learn it.
It wasn’t easy, though. When athletics is your Achilles’ heel, as it used to be for me, it’s no joke getting to know the intricacies, the flow, and the characters of a game as complex and universally loved as basketball. Enjoying it took even longer—I felt like Aragorn chasing after those orcs in The Two Towers, always a mountain or two behind what I was after.
Now that I can say I’m good company during a game (and a fresh subscriber of NBA Premium, yeah!) allow me to say from experience: Be patient with your ladies. They want to make you happy, and you don’t make that easy when you treat her weird questions and thoughts with disdain. Neither should you expect her to sit down and study a sport she’s only interested in because you want her to be; she doesn’t have to think like Mico Halili (shoutin’ a shoutout!) for both of you to enjoy game time.
Middle ground, guys. It’s the place to be.
Now if that doesn’t work, close this window and never read this column again because I clearly have nothing to offer you. Just kidding. It’s just I’ve reached my word count limit and have to stop typing.
Please come back next time.