(This article was published in 2005).
I was chatting on gay.com about a week ago when I got an instant message from "jock26inLA." We chatted a little bit about where we were in LA and what we were up to - you get the picture. And then I asked him if he had seen the Lakers-Kings game. He said he didn’t like basketball. I asked him if he watches much football. He said he doesn’t like sports much.
OK. This guy’s handle is JOCK26inla. So I asked him what the jock stood for.
"It sounds good."
Why is it so damned hard to find a boyfriend who likes sports? Like Jock26 implies, a jock/sportsdude sounds good. There’s something about it that other guys are generally attracted to. Just take a look at the athletic/jock types that most guys drool over in the A&F catalogs. And in an era when it’s getting cooler and cooler in the gay community to "act straight", why don’t more gay guys like sports? They certainly go to the gym and watch what they eat enough.
Personally, I’ve never dated a "sports fan." I dated a guy who would tolerate the Thanksgiving Day football games about three years ago. And then there was the guy who actually liked the Vikings. Unfortunately, he ONLY liked the Vikings.
My last boyfriend, Jerry, was par for the course.
It was mid-March - just two weeks to go before selection Sunday for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. My Stanford Cardinal were playing against USC - a crucial game for both teams: Stanford was jockeying for a #1 seed in the West and USC was making a run for one of the "bubble" bids.
I had planned my night around the game, and had been psyching myself up to watch it all week long. When I got home that night, just five minutes before tip-off, my boyfriend Jerry was sitting in front of the TV eating dinner.
"Hey Jer," I said, "I need the TV in five minutes for the Stanford game."
He glared at me and said, "I’m watching 'Friends'."
And so went our relationship.
When we first met in April of 2000, it was the annual lull in sports. Major League Baseball had started, the NFL was on hiatus, the major college sports had come to an end, and the NHL and NBA had just started their marathon 10-week playoffs. So, it was really easy for those first two months to spend a lot of time together and ignore the fact that I love sports and he doesn’t.
Then, in June, it started. The NBA Finals featured the Lakers. I live in L.A. NFL training camps opened after that, and I started paying attention to every move certain teams made.
In September, I told Jerry that I was going to be spending Sundays during the NFL season at Jim’s house with our NFL crew. He asked me how long the season lasts. It was just 17 Sundays and a few playoff games. That, he could handle. He worked most Sundays anyway. There wasn’t going to be a problem here.
But then there was a game every Monday night. I had forgotten to tell him that.
And college football was played on Saturdays. Every Saturday.
And after the NFL season was right when college basketball started getting good and Stanford was good this year and had a real shot to win it all. That goes until April when the Lakers would make another run at the title.
I’d be free again in July.
Of course, all of the guys I’ve dated have had interests that I wanted nothing to do with. But I notice an interesting pattern with the non-sports fans that I’ve dated - best exemplified by my relationship with Jerry. Jerry is a dancer, and a damn good one at that. He loves dancing - it’s his passion. He could tell you more about Tina Landon than I could ever know about Randy Moss.
Week One of the NFL season, I invited Jerry to watch a Monday Night Football game with me. He said no. He asked me to see "Billy Elliott." I said yes.
I asked him to come play football with my friends and me. He said no. He asked me to go out dancing with him. I said yes.
I asked him to come watch a Stanford-Long Beach State basketball game. He said no. He asked me to watch a dance recital a friend of his was in. I said yes.
There’s a kind of resentment that gay guys have toward other gay guys who like sports. My friend James has this great story where he met this guy around Memorial Day, and it was made very clear from the beginning that James was a huge football fan. They dated all summer, and once football began in September, James made a point of being accommodating so that the guy didn't feel neglected. But the guy would get pissed every time James chose to watch a game over being with him.
The final straw was when James kept long-standing plans for his birthday of watching the NFL games with a group of friends. When the guy found out, he looked at James and yelled - not said, but yelled: "I hate football. I despise football. I loathe football."
James was on the market again by half-time.
I’ve often wondered how straight guys do it. Most of them are married to women who just don’t like sports. And every Saturday and Sunday in the autumn they sit around in their inflatable chairs with the cup holders and throw chips at the TV and high five and hoot and holler and poor Jennifer has to simply flee the house from the building testosterone levels.
But, I guess therein lies a big difference between gay men and straight men: they’re naturally attracted to something that’s different from them; I’m naturally attracted to what’s similar to me. I guess it’s not my fault after all.
There is one sport that piqued Jerry’s interest: tennis. He’s not much of a men’s tennis fan - he prefers women’s tennis. It seems that every gay guy I know who doesn’t like sports, for some reason, likes women’s tennis. Like Stefi Graf and Martina cast some spell over them in the 80’s and early 90’s, and they were hooked.
Hey, I’m not complaining. It was a JOY last Independence Day, on a four-day weekend in Laguna, to watch the quarterfinals of Wimbledon with Jerry. It was a milestone for us - actually watching a sporting event together. Now that’s an anniversary I’ll celebrate.
Of course, Jerry and I are no more. He's dating a soccer player now. A wide receiver was just more than he could handle.