Men who don't like sports
Photo by Lwp Kommunikáció / CC BY 2.0

Hello, my name is Paul. And I’m a man who doesn’t like sports.

No, really, I’m still a man. I promise. Being one of the handful of members of MWDLSA (yeah, Men Who Don’t Like Sports Anonymous) doesn’t make me less of a man, although it feels like it sometimes. In fact, given the number of women who like sports, it might even be inferred that those of us men who don’t like sports are even less manly than women.

But if I weren’t a man, would I feel the need to make such pronouncements as the fact that I worked for several years in construction and could damn near build a house from the ground up given the right tools and a few extra hands? That’s manly, right?

But if you’re a man who doesn’t like sports, that’s often not enough proof. (I can also do a handful of things under the hood as well but nothing you couldn’t just figure out by the manual, so I won’t go into that too much. And it might actually hurt my case to say that for a man in his early 40s, I still play a pretty mean game of racquetball.)

I bring this up because we’ve hit that weird, often awkward time of year for men who don’t like sports: football season. Because let’s be honest, the “A” in MWDLSA may stand for “Anonymous,” but we’re not that hard to pick out in a group of guys.

Just ask us if we caught the most recent game.

“No, I missed that one,” the men who don’t like sports will say, as if we were perhaps watching another sporting event at the time. Or maybe even three at the same time since we’re so manly (do they have dual picture-in-picture yet?). We just didn’t happen to catch the one you were watching.

As you continue to talk about the game, some men who don’t like sports may even offer a few words of agreement or expressions of disbelief at the amazing play or completely unfair call you just described rather than have that moment when we are forced to say, “Yeah, I don’t really watch football.”

men who don't like sports(Do you understand why we might need a support group?)

But it won’t take long to figure us out. We won’t have much to say when you bring up players who we should probably recognize who were injured or traded to that other team, and please God, don’t ask us any questions (although the quicker of the men who don’t like sports can bounce questions right back at you. “Well, who do you like for the championship?”).

Additionally, we won’t offer any details on exactly what we were doing that caused us to “miss that one,” which was probably watching “The Walking Dead” with our wives (providing they don’t care much about watching sports either).

Having said all this, you should understand that there are two groups of men who don’t like sports. Unlike those who will object to the barbarism of many sports or lack of cultural value, I both respect and understand the merit of such a form of entertainment.

Men who don't like sports
Seriously. Bamboo shoots. Even with Tiger.

Much as I’d rather shove bamboo shoots under my fingernails than watch golf on television, I would completely agree with a friend of mine’s assertion that of the games involving a ball and some sort of club or racquet, golf is the most difficult given the size of the striking surface and distance from the ball to the hand. And to place that ball in a hole hundreds of yards away on the first shot? Impressive.

Or what about a quarterback throwing a football fifty yards and dropping it right into the hands of another player while 200-300 lb. men are essentially attacking them both? That’s some choreography right there. (And you know some of those wide receivers can jump so high because they actually take ballet training, right? Not even I’ve taken ballet. Okay, maybe a little.)

I recognize these are not simple things these athletes manage to pull off. It’s just that I don’t really care that much. Perhaps it’s because I never played much more in the way of team sports than some soccer at the YMCA, but I just don’t have that bond to a team. I don’t know any of these guys. Why should I care if they win or lose just because we’re both from the same state (or more realistically, they have been flown in to represent our state)?

But again, I respect what they do. I also respect doctors, but you’re not going to see me watching some big doctor polo match either (that’s what doctors do, right?), and I’ve even had a couple of these guys save my life. More than I can say for pro athletes.

Hmm. Taking that into account, I probably would go watch the doctor polo match if I was invited. But that’s about where we draw the line on professional courtesy.

men who don't like sports
Okay, I might watch this. See? I told you I was a man. (photo by Earl McGehee / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Otherwise, on the rare occasions that I’m granted as the father of a five-year-old and three-year-old the opportunity to actually sit down for two to three hours … okay, I can’t even write that with a straight face. So let’s say on those rare occasions when I get maybe two hours to watch something on the television that doesn’t involve talking animals, I prefer to watch something that tells a story.

And that doesn’t have anything to do with not playing sports growing up. I think that is more to do with the fact that I’m a fiction writer. I study the craft of storytelling. Just ask my stepdaughter sometime about Joseph Campbell, the Hero’s Journey, and having to watch movies with me which I know utilize Campbell’s philosophy; you’ll be treated to an amazing eye roll.

I don’t think I’m alone on this, though. Football producers figured this out a long time ago, and in an effort to attract the men who don’t like sports, they started telling the stories of the athletes (this is the part when the men who do like sports get another beer or some more nachos). That’s great and all, but I’m still more interested in seeing how Rick and the gang are going to survive the zombie apocalypse.

So on behalf of all members of Men Who Don’t Like Sports Anonymous, I only ask for consideration. When you realize you are talking to one of us, it doesn’t have to be an awkward moment. You don’t have to bring up your uncle or cousin who also has a problem with not liking sports. Or that you’re trying to not to watch sports as much yourself.

If you’re like those of my friends who have figured this out about me, you’ll just let me step back slowly as soon as another man with whom you can talk about the game joins the conversation.

Because this is when I get another beer and some more nachos.



  1. I hate sports. I see it from a much deeper level that professional sports are a major contributor to the many things wrong with our country. It is sacrificing ourselves on the altar of self indulgence. It is the bread and circuses of Rome used by our powerful elites to keep us stupid and distracted while they rape the land and amass power. Funny how we can afford billions of dollars to build sporting arenas to make billionaires even richer, but can’t afford books, or to pay teachers a decent wage. They claim it is for economic development, that just never seems to appear. It disgusts me that people can recall every stat about some running back or coach, but can’t tell you the name of their congressman or city council member. I am as manly as they come, but I don’t need a support group (men don’t feel the need to talk about their feelings or be supported). I would rather spend any limited free time at the shooting range turning money into noise and sending tiny bits of metal hurtling toward a paper target. We put far too much emphasis on sports and not enough on what is going on in our nation. So maybe those men who feel the need to have a support group should just look at those who watch sports and say “seriously, you watch that stuff?” Unashamed and proud that they know the names of the cabinet members and Supreme Court justices, pick up their pistol and head to the shooting range for some “Group Therapy.” Real men concern themselves with things that matter and don’t need to indulge themselves in escapism and vicarious living through a bunch of sportsers sporting.

  2. I would rather play a sport than watch it. I never had an interest in football, I played little league as a kid, ran track in high school, and that was it. I prefer backpacking, fishing, hunting,or just hiking around when I get a chance to do some. I laugh at the guys who get all excited and start telling others how “we beat you guys” really? WE!? I didn’t know you played for xxxxxx team?

    Now motorsports are another issue altogether. If it has an engine in it, I’m interested-except for NASCAR the golf of motorsports. Drag racing is my favorite. There is just something about dressing in women’s clothes and going really fast that excites me……… 😉

    All kidding aside, yes , I wish more people paid as much attention to our country as they do sports.

  3. This, coming from a man who as a boy was a very good natural athlete. You just weren’t interested. I watched when a young Paul Dail would burn even the older boys with your quickness in a neighborhood football game OR you would just stay inside and read a book. Whichever, it would be your choice. It was your way (some 30+ years ago) of demonstrating that you were going to be in charge of your life.

    As a recovering sportsaholic, I find in retirement, when I’m supposed to have lots of time on my hands, I have very little. For guys like me there’s Red Zone. It’s a kind of halfway house that shows only the exciting/critical plays of all the games being played at that particular time slot on football day. So, I can get all caught up with a couple of ten minute breaks, maybe grab a beer and nachos, and get back to whatever project I have going that day. Or, maybe I’ll read a book or take a nap…it’s my choice. Best of all, however, is time with family and friends. So, if a sports event is the venue, so be it.

  4. Good thoughts, all. Fortunately, there are still many men and women who would rather do than observe. I worry about the millennials with their heads firmly planted in their “devices.” They may be incredibly ignorant of the world around them, but at least they are good at Googling the information they need. Perhaps chronically sore necks will save them from a horribly digital fate.

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