Friday, March 16, 2012

No Outcasts in Gym Class

The media likes to present false dichotomies of women: the free-loving harlot or the frigid ice queen; the power-obsessed career woman or the dependent, deferent housewife; the beautiful airhead or the socially awkward nerd. The female sports enthusiast has similarly been shuffled into one of two categories: the disinterested woman who suddenly becomes a HUGE FAN and buys a pink jersey when her home team starts winning and/or she is trying to win the affections of a potential suitor, or the intimidating he-woman who could bench press three potential suitors.

Now, I don’t have any hard data supporting this, but I think chances are pretty good that if you’re a female who follows this blog, you fall into neither of these stereotypes.

You’re the girl who ran the sports section of your college newspaper, skipped classes to wait in line for lottery tickets for big home games, or dominated your opponents in intramural sports. In more recent years, perhaps you’ve run marathons or were commissioner of your fantasy league.

All in all, you are what the hip young kids call a baller.

Ladies who love Longhorns
But hold the phones! Against all conventional reason, you embrace “girly” things, too! Like me, you have The Sartorialist next to Grantland in your Google Reader. Or maybe you can rattle off the starting lineup for your favorite team as easily as you can recall every movie Ryan Gosling has starred in, and you paint your nails while debating a player’s MVP worthiness.

To you, dear sports fan, we at Gym Class All Stars would like to extend a warm welcome. We acknowledge that you are a demographic whose thoughts and perspectives are often overlooked and undervalued.
While we’re on the subject, GCAS would like to be an accessible, inclusive space for you other marginalized sports fan groups, too: the ones who desperately search for coverage of Australian footie, the emotional masochists who still think the Charlotte Bobcats can turn it around, even the so-called “casual sports fan.”

We know that you might not be able to recite every last stat, trade rumor, or esoteric piece of team history like these guys, but you do a decent job keeping yourself in the ESPN loop and are supportive of your team in good seasons and bad. As a CSF, you’ve probably encountered your fair share of sports hipsters -- the ones who knew about Joe Schmo waaaaaay before any of these others posers jumped on the bandwagon. Or maybe you've met people who were that particularly snobby breed of fanatic who view fandom as if it were some super exclusive club where they are the pretentious bouncer with the clipboard with the fake list, and the only way you can get in is by knowledgeably throwing around sports jargon (tip: be sure to use any one of the following: team chemistry, low-post defense, wildcat formation, hat trick).

In my mind, being a sports fan is a lot like driving a car: most people don’t exactly know the mechanics of how a vehicle runs (you know, how the long metal thing connects with the thing that gets really hot so that something something about the brake...). But you can tell when your car is a well-oiled machine capable of taking you from point A to point B, and you know when your junker is a piece of crap that needs to be re-tooled or have its parts traded out. While it’s true that you may not be able to have an in-depth conversation about the merits of V6 vs V8 engines with the owner of a body shop, this doesn’t make you any less valid of a driver, just like not understanding every little X and O detail about a sport doesn’t make you any less valid of a fan.

In the end, engaging in sports is supposed to be a binding agent for people: a common cause for which people can discuss, dissect, socialize and obsess over, and rally for or against. So come one, come all -- GCAS is glad you stopped by.


best article on the site so far

concur with alby. man, i don't know what half of the terms you were referring to were, but it sure sounded good. :) glad you were a fellow cactus yearbook contributor! ;)

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