I never understood the power or draw of sports before. Growing up I was so anti-sports, anti-athletics I took the stance all athletes were bullies who didn’t deserve my time, or respect. It took meeting my girlfriend to change my mind. You see she is trans, like me, but she did something I never did; she played football in high school.
After I finished gushing over how neat I thought that was, trust me she will tell you I gush over how cool she is quite a bit, I discovered there was more to sports than meets the eye. I always thought it was all superficial, and frankly, a waste of time. Then I met Christina and my perspective began to change. Slowly I began to understand why sports are so important to some people.
We’re both shy in our own ways. I have social anxiety disorder, she is on the autism spectrum. Neither of us excel in social situations. Thus we discovered we could use sports as a gateway to opening conversations between the two of us. I have to say watching sporting events with her and then discussing them have really enriched our relationship tremendously. As a result my life has improved as well.
It started with a casual watching of NFL games together. We basically had a rule we’d watch the Dallas Cowboys games together until playoffs then it was everything till Super Bowl Sunday. This worked for the two of us as it gave us both plenty to talk about during some of the rockier days in our relationship. I won’t go into the details why things were rocky for us then but I will say having football to bring us together helped us get over some slumps during the dark times. That was when I began to realize in our own way we kinda needed sports in our relationship. Not to fill the gap or pass the time but to ensure we both had something we could talk about passionately. While her passion for sports exceeds my own, as well as her deep knowledge of the teams histories and players, etc., we’ve gotten to a point where we both use sports as a jumping off point to other conversations.
That is when I realized why sports are important to people, they foster that social connection between individuals who might not otherwise be able to do so on their own. You get to share in the triumphs and tribulations of your respective teams but the real benefit is having something to talk about that generates passion. This opens the door to other conversations and in our case allows us to have deeper intimacy than we otherwise might have achieved on our own. I know there have been times when one of us was left in the dust conversation wise which often led to resentment and occasional fights. We resolved those but it put a strain on our relationship. Once we learned to utilize the power of sports together we quickly expanded our repertoire.
Today we watched the Stanley Cup Finals come to a conclusion. Last week or thereabouts it was the NBA finals. We also began watching the WNBA games of our respective teams as a side quest in our journey if you will. To me having sports has been a wonderful way to get closer to the woman I love. Something I never would have thought possible previously. I finally see the power of sports and it’s the power of love.