The gentleman sitting next to me at the bar couldn’t believe I was watching the Final Four.
“I got fired form a job as a bar tender once because I didn’t know enough about sports. The guy who owned the bar asked me what the Big 10 was and when I said I had no idea he informed me that was the problem. Everyone else coming into the bar did and they expected me to be able to keep up with the conversation.”
Two things stood out to me in this short exchange.
- Being able to talk sports is important for relationship building (and in some cases keeping a job.) It wasn’t about the sports itself it was inability to relate to the people he was working around. The people who came into the bar expected to find someone who listened and could contribute to a sports conversation.
- Not all guys talk sports. People (incorrectly) assume I started Talk Sporty to Me to teach women how to talk sports. Women don’t necessarily need help. You know who does? Non-sports fans. They can be men or women, young or old.
Here’s what this means for you. If you overlook the value of sports talk in building relationships with colleagues you’re making the same mistake the fired bartender did. Secondly, stereotyping sports fans causes you to miss out on opportunities.
Broaden your view, change your perspective and perhaps you’ll see the bigger picture on how sports talk works to your advantage.
Here are three ways to go about broadening your sports knowledge.
- Read sports headlines. Headlines and sub-headlines are written intentionally to provide key information about the story. You can glean a lot of information from reading just the headlines. And if you want to make it even easier, sign up to receive the list of sports Convo Starters I post every Monday. Each topic is essentially a headline containing at least five pieces of information.
- Pick a local team to follow. If you don’t know where to start, start local. You’ll naturally get more updates/news about the local team. In addition more people will be talking about the local team giving you more chances to either join the conversation or learn from the sports fans around you.
- Focus on one player. For the purpose of building your sports knowledge base, narrowing your focus will help you retain more information. Listen for updates related to that player and you’ll automatically get details about the game or the team because sports updated wouldn’t say Jay Bruce hit two homers in a game without also saying the Mariners beat the White Sox or the Mariners won 9-2. You wouldn’t just hear Russell Wilson threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns in a game without also hearing who was on the receiving end of those touchdown passes, the score of the game, who the Seahawks were playing and if the Seahawks won.
If you’d like more strategies on becoming a sports fan for business checkout the free resources available at TalkSportytoMe.com and leave your name in the box marked “Let’s Do This!” to receive weekly sports ConvoStarters.
Jen Mueller has literally written the books on how to become a sports fan for business and how to talk sports at work. She’s an expert in sports talk and communication because it’s what she does for a living. A 19-year sports broadcasting veteran, Jen is a member of the Mariners television broadcast team on ROOT Sports and serves as the Seahawks radio sideline reporter. Her unique perspective on business communication and the value of sports fandom at work makes for entertaining and edcuational presentations. Hire Jen to speak at your next conference, event or training session. Jen@TalkSportytoMe.com