All my husband ever wanted was a threesome. A threesome between him, me and sports.
So he sports-seduced me. That is, he launched a very deliberate, very strategic and very stealth campaign to lure me in to the cozy folds of sports fandom.
He convinced a woman who did not care about sports to care.
Let me say right off that I am not and have never been one of those naggy shrew types who harasses her man for watching sports with his friends instead of coming along to browse housewares. I despise that crap and honestly have no interest whatsoever in impeding my man’s love of sport, which I actually consider to be a dear and defining part of him. No, in our case, the problem was that he was always trying to rope me in and get me to participate in stuff — and I was always rebuffing these advances.
A typical scene
Him: C’mere, check out this replay of words words words, words that I don’t fully understand.
Me: Oh, no thanks.
Him: But it’s Tom Brady.
Me: I’m reading Vanity Fair.
Him: It’s an eight second clip.
Me: Jesus. As if I’m Alyssa Milano! [storms off]
It wasn’t that I hated sports — it was more that they were just invisible to me. And I was fine with that. I had a lovely, full life without sports being in it. So I was irked by my husband’s attempt to change me.
But he will say that he wasn’t, exactly, trying to change me. He just wanted sports to be on my radar. As he saw it, I should be a sports fan, as I naturally possess some of the key ingredients: I’m from sports-hyper Boston, I grew up in a sports-loving home, and also, I’m alarmingly competitive — as anyone who has ever bowled with me or played me in Settlers of Catan knows. He felt that if only I’d give it all a chance, sports would enrich my life.
It’s actually kind of sweet when you think about it.
So, The Seduction. The scheme unfurled slowly, bit by tiny bit, over the course of an entire year (2008, to be exact — a thrilling year for our home teams.) At every stage of the plan, my husband was powerfully decisive yet perfectly gentle — though of course at the time I didn’t even know I was a target. Key to his M.O.: he would open my eyes to the world of sports on my terms.
By the time summer and the Celtics/Lakers NBA championship series came around, I was ricocheting off the walls with unbridled crazypants mania. I could barely function, so brimming with berserk anticipation was I for each game. More than one post-get-together car ride was spent with me railing loudly and indignantly against people I deemed too unfocused and chatty to properly watch games with. I started watching SportsCenter. By myself.
It was around this time that my husband realized the seduction had succeeded. It had succeeded exactly as he’d planned.
(Please understand that to this day, on the Me – sports groupie Alyssa Milano continuum, I’m still closer to me. Like, I don’t blog about sports. I don’t care to grasp the meaning of WHIP or OBP. I am still and will always be creeped out by fans in body paint, and please God help me if I ever don a mesh jersey for Monday Night Football. But I now have my teams, my guys that I’m tight with. I am devoted to those teams, those guys. Plus now there’s one more thing my husband and I can do together.)
Sports-seduction. That’s what I’m saying. And you, too, can master the art. You can even start this week with the NCAA Tournament, a thing that I now know exists. Below are my suggestions for some essential moves for your sports seduction playbook.
1) Play it cool
Above all else, your lady cannot know she is a target. Sports-seduction takes time. And effort. But all your strategy and cunning must be invisible. So be smooth. Be subtle. Use a delicate touch. Every invitation and comment you utter should be given in a manner that exudes EXTREME BREEZINESS, as if you do not desire a thing from your lady.
2) Appeal to her penchant for Lifetime Network-esque storylines
Eventually your lady will see the compelling drama inherent to sports, but at this stage, you just need a hook, and this hook is the athletes’ personal lives. Yes, it’s a stereotype, but it’s the true kind of stereotype. As long as she is a non-robot, chances are your lady will find hauntingly irresistible any athlete who has been through hardship, be it illness, injury, familial strife or whathaveyou. Some examples:
A) Let’s say Jon Lester is on the mound. Pause the DVR and call your lady into the room. “This fresh-faced young buck threw the 18th no-hitter in Red Sox history,” you might say by means of introduction. Probably your lady will nod politely and try to leave. Here’s where you casually drop a bomb. “He did it 20 months after being diagnosed with cancer.” Wha?! Bomb. Don’t be surprised if your lady lingers. Don’t be surprised if she has questions re: Lester. She may even try to sit down with you and watch this poised, cancer-free phenom throw balls. But do not engage. Instead, promptly and politely send her back to whatever it was she was doing. “OK, thanks,” you can say. “That’s all I wanted to show you.”
B) Perhaps your lady is nearby when the NBA’s Leon Powe appears on your TV screen. You can say — as if to self, yet audibly — something like, “Hard to believe his childhood home burned to the ground and then his family was homeless for years and then he and his eleventy-nine siblings went to foster care where they basically raised themselves with teenage Leon as the father figure.” Bomb! Then change subjects.
There is truly a treasure trove of material at your disposal. Store up these gems like the little nuggets of ammo they are and then let them fly as needed. The real heady sense of accomplishment will come later when you notice your lady browsing the interwebs for more info on these dudes. When this happens, bravo – you have succeeded in splendidly firing up her appetite.
3) Edible incentives
Speaking of appetite, be aware that “Wanna watch the Celtics?” sounds worlds different from “Wanna order Vito’s and watch the Celtics?” I cannot stress enough the importance of getting your lady to associate sporting events with opportunities for enjoyable face feeding. One caveat: if your lady is the kind of dreary eater who doesn’t get jazzed about real food and only eats low-cal items wrapped in lettuce cups, this won’t fly.
4) Make her weep
Encourage your lady to witness scenes of pure, ebullient, life-affirming emotion. For instance: 1) The NCAA’s “One Shining Moment” montage, which she will find schmaltzy, yes, but also totally blood-pumping and life affirming in a St. Elmo’s Fire theme song kind of way. 2) The highly exhilarating post-game group-hugging-hopping thing that baseball teams like to do.
5) Know when to conceal and when to reveal
Remember that while you are revealing a lot of stuff about the sports world for your lady, you must also decide which dumb and lame aspects of it you are going to conceal from her, lest their dumbness and lameness undermine your overall mission. Ideas of things to hide: Ben Roethlisberger, Big Baby Davis interviews, steroid chatter, Mike Krzyzewski’s voice, anything golf-related.
6) Get on the Gus Bus
Does your lady enjoy happiness? Expose her to Gus Johnson screaming his spaztastic sportscaster head off. March Madness is a good time for this. There are few things on earth more glee-inducing than Gus screeching insanities like “HE’S IN SHAPE!” and “HERE COMES THE PAIN!” and “THE SLIPPER STILL FITS!”– things that I don’t even know what they mean but I like them.
7) Highlight smarts
Your lady might think that pro sports are populated by dumb jocks. OK. But there are also intelligent athletes out there whose brainpower your lady will totally respect. So find opportunities to discuss with her the specific skills involved in playing different positions as organically as possible. I remember that a week or so before Super Bowl XLII (Giants/Pats) I admitted to my husband that I still didn’t really “get” what Tom Brady “did” — other than make babies with pretty longhaired girls and wear terrific blazers for GQ. So we ran a few plays in the living room, sketched a few diagrams on a legal pad (see below), and, for the first time ever, I had something concrete to wrap my head around. And it blew my mind, realizing just how many different kinds of physical and mental intelligence are required for that job. Now I think QBs should qualify for MacArthur genius awards. The good ones, anyway.
8) Throw her a bone
There is a certain usefulness to watching figure skating and So You Think You Can Dance with your lady in an enthusiastic manner when she asks.