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Why Dads of girls watch sports

I am not a big sports fan. I enjoy watching tennis from time to time, but have even lost touch with that mostly. I like watching televised sports in short bursts. A couple of plays at a time is about the most I can handle of a football game. I can’t carry on an intelligent conversation about sports for long.

Apparently, the time is coming when that will change.

I just discovered a new blog – possibly my new favorite “Dad Blog” – written by a man named Johnny around my age with 2 daughters slightly older than mine. It only started in September, and it is well-written and funny, so I went back and read all his posts. It’s good stuff. I had tears in my eyes from laughing at times. Go take a read.

One of his posts takes on the constant conversations pummeling the ears of Dads with daughters, and how it can make it difficult to watch TV. And it ends up explaining why sports bars exist. In between we learn why Dads watch sports:

So, regardless of who picks the show, [the girls] talk the whole time – to each other, to me, on the phone…etc. I try to watch the show, but I am limited by genetics and gender and can’t follow (or hear) the show and the conversations at the same time – they can.

I think this explains why men watch sports. Guys watch countless hours of sports because you don’t need to “hear” or “listen” to a televised game to understand what is happening. So far, I have yet to find a sporting event that needs to be watched with the sound turned on.

I grew up in a house that was the gender-opposite situation of the one I live in now. My mother had to deal with three males. We didn’t have this problem of words flying through the air willy-nilly 24×7. When we watched TV, we watched TV. When we read books, we read books. Other activities (except eating) ceased. The exception was when we had family parties. People would be milling around playing and talking and my uncle would turn on “the game.” Eventually the Dads would end up sitting there watching the game while the noise happened around them. So growing up, I always thought that was a party thing.

Then I started dating my wife. My wife is part of a family of 6, evenly divided in gender. By the time I got there, my father-in-law had been living with the youngest child for over 17 years. He was not new to this at all. Keep that in mind. The first time I ate dinner with their family was a whirlwind for me. Yes, there was a lot of activity in passing food around, but I could handle that. What surprised me was the mental workout. Between Pam, her sister, and her mother, there were never fewer than 6 conversations going on simultaneously – and none of them were directed to the males in the room. It was like trying to follow the discussion in an open, public, chat room where 50 people are all talking at once. That same volume was coming from 3 people, and there was no ability to scroll back up and figure out to which person in which conversation a given sentence pertained – you just had to know. And they all seemed to do it with almost no effort. I never heard a hint of confusion. On the other hand, I could actually feel my brain getting hotter from all the exertion I was poring into trying to follow this. I made a valiant effort that may have lasted 5 minutes (generously), then, like my laptop when it overheats, my brain shut off. It felt good when my face relaxed and my eyes glazed over.

As my brain rebooted into safe mode I was able to continue eating and carry on standard functions. It was at that point that I looked at my father-in-law. He had the same look on his face as I did. You could see that the words flying around the room were just safely flying past him as he ate his dinner. The rest of the family just thinks he’s laid-back and quiet. I can’t say for sure, but there’s room to be made for the theory that he wasn’t that way before his girls learned to talk.

After dinner the conversations continued while the TV tuned into NASCAR or baseball. The volume was usually not very high if it was on at all. Johnny has explained it perfectly.

That level of talking hasn’t happened yet in my house. The disconnected conversations I’ve heard coming from my girls are from the attention-deficit qualities of their ages. They don’t multi-task well yet. I can see it coming though, as they get older. It’s in their genes.

So, if in a few years you’re able to hold an intelligent conversation with me about sports, you’ll know why.

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