A few weeks ago, on Thanksgiving Day, I was in a sports bar watching the 49ers lose to Baltimore. The bar was pretty empty, as I imagine most people were eating turkey with their families at 5 p.m., not draining Bud Lights and screaming at the TV. (Or hopefully they were doing both!)
Because the bar only had a few patrons, all sitting together in front of the biggest TV, it wasn’t hard for anyone to hear when I started yelling:
“SERIOUSLY? YOU’RE GOING TO RUN THE BALL ON THIRD-AND-SEVENTEEN? SERIOUSLY?”
Now just to be clear, the person to whom I was speaking was the 49ers coach, Jim Harbaugh.
Yes, he was 3,000 miles away in Baltimore and yes, I was yelling at him via an inanimate object, but he was the intended recipient of my rant.
While I love what he’s done for my team and think he is a great coach, I felt he was being overly conservative in this particular game, playing “not to lose,” instead of “playing to win.” And this was Baltimore IN Baltimore. It was going to take more than just trying not to lose. The 49ers needed to do something -- anything -- to shut that crowd up and switch the momentum.
Running on third-and-long, not getting the first down and punting the ball away was the exact opposite of what I wanted to see, even if, considering we were on our own 25-yard line, it was possibly the right thing to do.
SO MUCH BACK STORY JUST TO GET TO THE POINT.
So anyway, there I am using my outside voice to yell at Jim Harbaugh/the TV and, therefore, inviting anyone to comment, when this patron a few seats over breaks out his best “condescending voice” and starts lecturing me.
“ACTUALLY,” he starts while literally looking down his nose at me (I didn’t even realize that was possible!), “it would be REALLY STUPID to pass. We can’t risk an interception on that part of the field.”
“Right,” I say. “I get it. But what does that say about us if we don’t even trust our quarterback to pass on third-and-long?”
“Well ACTUALLY, we have one of the best punters in the NFL, so it’s fine."
Now, for those of you who don’t know me, let me just tell you that for YEARS while the Niners sucked, our punter, Andy Lee, was my “favorite” player. Every time he came on the field, I yelled his name: “Andy Leeeeeeee!”
It’s really sad when your punter is one of your best players and when he’s on the field ALL OF THE TIME, but that was a dark time and Andy Lee was a shining light who was breaking all sorts of records because, well, that’s what happens when you get to punt after almost every set of downs.
And even though any 49ers fan would be very familiar with two-time Pro Bowler Andy Lee, and, even though I was not only wearing a 49ers sweatshirt but also clearly rooting for them to win, this guy assumed I knew none of that. This guy assumed I was a moron.
I don’t like when people assume anything about me, but I really don’t like when the thing they automatically assume is that I spend most of my time twirling my hair wondering if unicorns ever really did exist. (Because, I mean, obviously they did.)
“Yeah, I know,” I said. “No one likes Andy Lee more than I do. But I still just think Harbaugh is being really conservative.”
“Well ACTUALLY,” (Oh my god, stop it with the ACTUALLYs because you ACTUALLY sound like an arrogant a-hole) “a conservative game plan is why we’ve been winning this season.”
I’ll spare you the details of the rest of the evening, but just know that almost every single time I said something (to the TV or Campfriend) about the game, this guy went out of his way to contradict and lecture me in a tone one might use with a three-year-old if one thought three-year-olds were not only in need of direction and help, but also the most vile creatures on earth.
Of course I’m not a vile three-year old; I’m a woman. Same difference! (To that guy.)
Which is, 700 words in, my point. Because, while I hate to say it, I don’t believe that guy would have spoken to any man in that bar in the manner in which he was speaking to me. As hard as I’ve tried, I can’t imagine him lecturing a dude on the skills of our punter or the calls by our coach. I just can’t.
Sadly, as a female who’s been watching NFL games in bars since the 90s, I have a lot of experience dealing with men who can’t fathom that a girl knows her football. I’m not saying I’m some crazy stat machine who can pump out numbers and facts from decades back (my brain doesn’t work like that), but I know my shit, I watch every game and I’m a huge fan.
And since I’m a girl: I’m also helpful! (Women: we LOVE to please!) So when a guy in a sports bar throws out a question to everyone in the vicinity, if I know the answer, I give it.
Again, I don’t know everything, but if the question is something like “Who’s Green Bay playing next week?” “How many yards has Frank Gore rushed for this season?” or “What’s the deal with James Harrison?” a lot of times I do know the answer.
So I say it.
“The Chiefs,” “Over 1,000” and “People are saying he’ll be suspended for one or two games, but nothing’s happened yet."
I don’t need a cookie for answering a question correctly (though I do love a good cookie and rarely, if ever, turn one down, except oatmeal raisin: gross), but a quick “cool” or “thanks” is always appreciated.
However, nine out of 10 times, I don’t get either of those. What I do get, instead, is: silence.
More often than not, it’s not until a guy repeats the same answer I JUST gave that the question-asker acknowledges it. “Oh, cool. Thanks man.” And then they pull their penises out and compare sizes or whatever. (OK, fine, they just do a little head nod thingy and take a sip of beer, but basically it’s the same thing.)
There are several reasons that men may not hear the answer they’re seeking until someone of their gender gives it to them. Perhaps they tune me out. Maybe they don’t believe I know the answer. It’s possible that they’d feel more comfortable hearing it from someone “else.”
Whatever the secondary reason is, the primary reason men in sports bars ignore my responses is abundantly clear:
It’s because I’m a woman.
I know. It’s so cliché, but ugh: it’s so true.
Even better: If, for some bizarre reason, a guy does engage me in sports talk, I tend to get either a condescending lecture (see above), the assumption that I only watch football because of my boyfriend (who’d never been to a 49ers game before I took him), or my favorite: “Which player do you have a crush on?” (Answer: None of them. I don’t get emotionally involved with my players. We have work to do; there’s no time for crushes.)
Once I told a guy at a party I was a 49ers fan and because he simply couldn’t believe I was as dedicated as I said (I often have to “prove” my fandom by saying I’m a season ticket holder), he started quizzing me on the players.
“Who’s our back-up running back?”
“Who was our first draft pick in 2010?”
“Who’s our best defensive player?”
Because THAT’S something dudes do to other dudes when they say they like a team.
Do these guys really think I’m so eager to impress them that I’m going to lie about my love of 49ers’ football? Do they honestly believe I want their validation so badly that I’m going to fake small talk about the NFL? Do they truly imagine that football is the only thing I can come up with to impress them? Or that I want to impress them at all?
So, what about you? Have you ever had to deal with blatant sexism? How’d you’d handle it? And what are we going to do about all of these silly boys who think they’re so much smarter than us?! Tell me in the comments. I missed you guys.
Follow Daisy Barringer on Twitter for lots of cuss-filled sports rants and other inappropriate musings.