Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Five Levels of Sports Knowledge

There are varying degrees of sports knowledge. Over time these degrees have separated into five distinct levels. One is the lowest and five is the highest. I, confidently, am at level five. Jericho also is at level five. You, my reader? The jury’s still out.

It’s a simple concept but one that is often times glossed over or whose intricacies are not completely understood. Whereas my mom could say her favorite Giant of all time was Benito Santiago, (she liked the way it sounds like a party every time you say his name) she couldn’t tell you what position he played. My sister sat courtside at last year’s NBA All-Star game but couldn’t tell the difference between Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace. Ok, ok, those examples are easy. Girls either know nothing about sports or are freakishly versed in rattling off the starting infield for the ’91 Oakland A’s. (Let’s see here…Lansford, Weiss, Gallego, McGuire – yep, still got it.)

It’s with other dudes that the levels can be tricky. And as we’ve noted before, there is nothing worse than entering into a conversation with a guy who knows nothing about sports. Often times they try to disguise themselves but their knowledge comes straight from the headlines of (“Wow, they’re sure throwing the book at Michael Vick aren’t they?!”)

The following describes the various levels of sports knowledge. Included are specific examples and recommendations to improve to the next level. It’s like karate or one of those nerd video games, the more you “play” the higher the level you reach.

***Level One***
This is the lowest level. Most women and small children are at level one. At this level you can recognize the physical difference between a baseball and a football. However, when asked to identify a basketball from a group of objects, you stare blankly. For those at level one we recommend giving up. There is no purpose for living any longer.

***Level Two***
The second level is reserved for girlfriends who hate sports, men who were in the school band and Europeans. At this level you immediately have an adverse reaction when seeing a loved one on the couch enthralled in a game. You say words like “this is so boring” and “it’s just a game” to try and get attention. It rarely works. Recommendations for this level include trying to identify a sport you can relate to. Like shuffleboard, horseshoes or canasta*.

*Please note, while not technically a sport, canasta is still a game whose competitiveness and strategy sort of mimic actual physical sports. Well, not really. But anytime you can sneak canasta into a blog post you know things are going well.

***Level Three***
This is the lowest level any respectable man can fall into. At this level, you can participate in very top line sports conversations revolving around teams and their former big name superstars. There isn’t any substance behind what is said, but at least 95% of the time the reference is correct. For example:

You: “Hey, how are the 49ers doing this season?”

Me: “They’re terrible. Their offense is anemic, their defense spends too much time on the field and they’ve seem to have lost all momentum from last season.”

You: “San Francisco was much better when Joe Montana was around.”

(See, this is my point. While the level three person thinks they’re advancing the conversation, they’re actually killing it. How do you reply to something like this? Now imagine you’re at a cocktail party or a double date and this is the other “guy” you’re supposed to be “nice” to. It stings doesn’t it?)

At this level, we recommend reading the sports page a few more times a week. Visit more often. Take an interest in one sport or one team. Follow them for an entire season. Rinse and repeat.

***Level Four***
Most red blooded men in America are at level four. You probably played a sport in high school (a real sport – not waterpolo), have been to multiple professional sporting events and claim either Michael Jordan, Ken Griffey Jr. or Bo Jackson as your favorite athlete of all time. You have played fantasy football for a couple of years but consistently get a loss or two each season because:

a) You forgot to change out an injured player

b) You were out of town for a period of time with your significant other. (Not an excuse. The Internet is everywhere or you find a trusted resource to manage your team while you’re away.)

c) You were already out of the running and instead of being a man and finishing the season, you threw in the towel. (Karma’s a bitch buddy. Just wait till you need a win from the last place team in the last week of the season.)

At this level we recommend you re-evaluate your priorities. You are close to achieving ultimate sports knowledge but without making personal sacrifices you’ll never get there.

***Level Five***

The ultimate goal for every man in America. You can easily name the colleges of the following athletes:
1) Kobe Bryant
2) Stacey Augmon
3) David Carr

After enough thinking, you can manage to name the colleges of the following athletes:
1) Adonal Foyle
2) Ladell Betts
3) Darnell Autry

Signs you are at the fifth and highest level of sports knowledge:

You plan your children’s birth dates in the months of April and May. You religiously read the sports page every single day. You have seriously considered naming your first-born Don Mattingly Harris. Your favorite player on a football team is a lineman, a safety or a linebacker. Whenever a major upset happens in college sports you know exactly which friend to call to rub it in. You have watched an entire major league draft either in person or on TV. You have most likely won a fantasy sports championship and if you haven’t you know exactly what you would have done differently. On Saturday nights you dream about the day your fantasy football team is about to have. You check more than 10 times a day. You have waited in line for more than 5 hours for a major sporting event. You know exactly whose jersey you would own if you lived in any major city in America, for every major sports team. For at least one season, you have watched or listened on the radio to every single game of a baseball team’s season. You’ve cried at some point in your life because of a sports team. You write for Apples and Moustaches.

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