She said, He said

Allison Tiberia, Copy chief

When it comes to sports, the ones that garner the most recognition are men’s sports: the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball. Even the most popular college sports are men’s sports. This, however, doesn’t mean that men are the only ones who know about sports.

Even though I am a woman, I know a lot about sports. I grew up surrounded by sports, from going to Little League Baseball games to watching University of Florida football with my dad – all of which taught me the rules and procedures of each sport. Just because I’ve never played a sport doesn’t mean I don’t know what’s going on when I watch a game.

An example: A few months after I started dating my boyfriend (the man opposite me on the page who I’ve been with for a year and a half), we were out at dinner one night and we started talking about football. Somehow we got on the topic of referee signals – and my boyfriend could hardly believe his ears and eyes when I said I knew the hand signals for first, second, third and fourth down, and then showed him.

Why is that so surprising?

Maybe it’s because women aren’t as fanatic about it as men. I don’t mean in terms of getting distressed over a game – trust me, I get plenty worked up and stressed out over close games and bad calls.

I’m talking more about statistics and players. Yes, I know stats are important in sports, but not to the point where I need to memorize every last bit of information about every important player .

It’s just like in the movie City Slickers. (If you haven’t seen it, you should. Billy Crystal is awesome in it.) The three main characters are really into sports, especially baseball. It’s a recurring topic of conversation throughout the movie. While a group of people are talking, baseball comes up. The woman in the group says she doesn’t understand men and baseball – after being asked if she doesn’t like baseball, she replies: “No, I like baseball. I just never understood how you guys can spend so much time discussing it. I mean, I’ve been to games, but I don’t memorize who played third base for Pittsburgh in 1960.” As soon as she finishes her sentence, the three guys all say, “Don Hoak,” proving her point that men memorize everything about a sport they like.

Men need to learn to stop being so surprised when women enjoy and know sports. While I may not memorize stats about every football player who played for UF, I can tell you a lot about the team in the past 15 years. I can tell you its ups and downs, the good seasons and the bad, the players who made it in the NFL and the ones who flopped.

I may not remember every player who has played for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, but I can tell you who’s made a difference. I’ve been to plenty of games, and I pay attention.

I yell and scream at bad calls, stupid coaches and untalented players. And I know plenty of other women who do the same.

If you’re talking about sports, don’t drop your jaw in astonishment when I knowledgably contribute to the conversation. And don’t be even more astounded if I know more about it than you.

Mike Camunas, Sports Editor

It feels like no matter what I say, no matter how I put it, I’m going to come off sexist.

Anyone who knows me, who really knows how I think, knows that’s not me. I feel women are just as capable as men in any profession, whether it’s sports journalism or sports publicity, or anything even not concerning sports. The Oracle has even had numerous female sports writers and editors, so we’re not sexist in that department either.

But if I have to go by a stereotype to make my point, then that’s what I have to do. Since the general assumption is that women know less about sports than men, here’s my argument.

Women do generally know less about sports, or because men are smarter and it’s not because women are inferior to them.

We all know there are female athletes who dominate their sport and are multitalented as well. But women who are not sports reporters or in sports marketing but still know a lot about sports are rare in existence.

I could go out and survey 100 random women (and believe me, I would make time to do that) and say to them, “Name an NFL quarterback who doesn’t play for the Bucs.” Who do you think the answer would be?

Roger Staubach? Seneca Wallace? Charlie Frye?

Most men wouldn’t even choose those answers.

The answer would most likely be Tom Brady.

Three Super Bowls, dating a movie star and dashingly good looking for a man who doesn’t like to shave. More women have seen him in People magazine or at a movie premiere than on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Now, am I saying women only know of the good-looking quarterbacks? No. I mean, I guess balding Matt Hasselbeck of the Seattle Seahawks or Grizzly Adams-wannabe Jake Plummer of the Denver Broncos could be considered by some women as attractive, but for the ladies who are reading this, did you know either one of those players before I mentioned them?

Did you know that Hasselbeck is the losing quarterback from Super Bowl XL or that Plummer played college ball at Arizona State?

It’s not just football – it’s all sports, or at least the mainstream American ones such as basketball or baseball. Women just don’t generally go around spouting football statistics from 1984 or reminiscing about the 1986 World Series.

It reminds me of the scene from City Slickers where the blonde woman wonders why men obsess so much about sports, particularly baseball. She quips, “I just never understood how you guys can spend so much time discussing (baseball). I mean, I’ve been to games, but I don’t memorize who played third base for Pittsburgh in 1960.”

How many of the men reading this just answered Don Hoak without seeing the movie?

Beat you.

The problem is, she’s right. Women don’t see the point. Hell, some men don’t see the point either.

That’s why it’s rare, and even I have an exception. This woman next to me on the page, whom I’ve been dating for nearly two years, is rare.

When we started going out, she shocked and amazed me by naming players most women don’t know and actually knew complicated rules to baseball that even major-league veterans still stumble over explaining.

So, ladies, what exactly is the infield fly rule? How about a balk?

It’s all good, though; your boyfriend probably can’t even explain a balk.

Beat him, too.