My family is not a sports-watching family. My dad has never cared about sports in his life — he’d rather read about WWII or go hiking or work on a broken engine. My mom enjoys some sports, but that mild interest is usually overshadowed by something else — namely, the fact that no one will watch with her. Neither of my siblings care much about team sports, either. My sister prefers equestrian and rodeo-type events, and my brother has only recently shown an interest watching hockey (due to new friends, I think, more than anything).
Soccer is the only sport we’ve ever been into as a family. My siblings and I all played soccer in elementary and middle school, and my dad even played in a pickup league for a few years (before he realized soccer wreaks havoc on your knees). But I quit when it began to get competitive. For me, that took the fun out of it, and I didn’t really have enough time anyway. I chose flute lessons and band over soccer practices. Once us kids all quit soccer, the family interest kind of died, too.
My boyfriend, on the other hand, is definitely into sports. He played baseball starting when he was little, and basketball through middle school. Plus, his dad is a devoted college football fan, and they both enjoy the occasional hockey game. If it’s a team sport, it’s likely my boyfriend enjoys watching.
When I met him freshman year, we became inseparable quickly. And that meant I went with him to all our college games. Freshman year was the first time I had ever been to a real football game, and honestly, it wasn’t my favorite. For one, it was cold, and for two, football is slow. Have you ever measured the amount of time the players actually play during a football game? It’s not a lot. But I did enjoy the people-watching, and the atmosphere, and I’ll be honest — I mainly kept agreeing to go so I could watch the marching band. That’s the stuff, right there.
He also dragged me to basketball games, and we drove to the state capital for NHL hockey when we could get cheap tickets. He would explain the rules to me, and as I understood the games better, I began to appreciate them. (Except baseball. I don’t know if I’ll ever appreciate baseball.) For awhile I thought hockey might be my favorite sport. But then we both started working for our college sports network.
We covered our women’s soccer team in the fall, but it really got fun when basketball season started. I knew I enjoyed basketball games the most anyway, and when we started working every single home game, I got truly invested. I began to figure out which players were good at what, and really began to care about the team as more than entertainment. I still don’t know all the rules, and am bad at watching for fouls. But basketball is an easy sport to enjoy, especially if you think you don’t like sports. Here’s why.
- It’s fast moving. Unlike football, players are on the court more often than they are off. You don’t get bored watching because there’s always something going on.
- It’s a high-scoring game. This means no matter what team you’re watching, you’re going to see someone make a basket. All you really need to know about basketball is that whoever makes the most baskets wins, and games can turn around quickly. It’s unpredictable.
- The rules are fairly simple. For players, there’s a lot of nuance. But for casual viewers, it’s easy: when the opposing team has the ball, your team plays defense. When your team has the ball, they play offense. Fouls get called when players touch each other too much, and that’s when you get free throws. That’s a ridiculously dumbed-down version, but that’s honestly all you need to be able to follow a game.
- You get to see cool moves. Basketball courts are kind of small, as sports go, so players have to be quick on their feet in order to make baskets. They have to be able to pass quickly and accurately, and may need to do a few nifty spin moves to get away from defenders.
The rules to football and baseball are a little more complicated, even when simplified, and hockey and soccer are so low-scoring that they sometimes can be boring to watch. But basketball has all the right attractions. And you don’t even have to sit out in the cold.