When I was young and foolish, I used to think women hated sports because they did not understand it. So many rules! So many teams! All the running around, often with nothing of note happening for large chunks of the game. Of course they’d get bored watching it.
I knew the thing they struggled with was the secret ingredient to proper fandom; loyalty. That intangible phenomenon where a man chooses a team during his formative years and stitches its colours into the fabric of his heart. Henceforth, his mood, humour and general wellbeing are pegged heavily on the success and/or failure of his team.
It’s not that women struggle with the concept of loyalty, but it’s never too high on their list of priorities. A man is rarely worth the privilege of loyalty. For life? That’s too high a price to pay, please.
And so women are constantly puzzled at this perpetual flapping of gums regarding Arsenal and Manchester United, these debates about Cristiano and Messi that will surely be the cause of World War III. How is there always another game? Does it never end? Why are grown men constantly squinting over charts, data and tables, talking about XG and player comps? It’s never that serious imagine!
But then, the epiphany came.
The real issue here was always much simpler. The real enemy is joy. Enjoyment. Peace. All states of euphoria induced by sports in ways women resent and envy.
It is when a man is seated silently watching a game that his lady suddenly remembers all the things he has forgotten to do. It is while Saka is terrorising fullbacks in Doha that Mama Jemo decides to plant her wide frame in front of the TV with the bi-weekly chorus of “You never do anything in this house.”
Trash must be taken out during Super Sunday. The baby needs urgent watching on race day. The ugali needs a firm hand just when Steph the chef is cooking the rest of the league.
It is jealousy, pure and simple. A woman needs to be responsible for a man’s extreme emotions, otherwise she feels shortchanged. It is why she appears like a genie when her man starts laughing with another woman. It is also why she was blessed with a touch of cruelty, so that she can sprinkle it all over him and occasionally squeeze the joy from his life. Why is someone else making him smile? The job given to her before man and God? Why is his mood being darkened by some boys in London? Is he saying they can ruin his day better than her?
Football has that rare ability to dispense joy and misery women crave so deeply. The team he supports commands such unwavering, unflinching love and support, no matter what they put him through. He will never forgive her for that time she slipped and fell into another man’s bed, but he forgave and moved on when his Gunners allowed United to put eight goals past them. She has only been on his WhatsApp stories once, possibly by accident. Bukayo Saka has made it there once a week since the team went top of the league.
Assimilation rarely works. Sure, women can get into sports. They can adopt their man’s team and learn the rules of the game. They can even join his fantasy league and banter him with the rest of his boys. But when it’s all said and done, true fandom means extremism, and women like to reserve their extremism for other spheres of their lives. Sport remains an exclusive club with stringent entry requirements, a silent one being the ownership of a penis.
And so I understand the beef, ladies. I get it. If I thought you were reasonable people, I would appeal to you to let people enjoy things. Life is short, there is no need to police joy or even disappointment. If I thought you could overcome your competitiveness and possessiveness, I would encourage you to find something for yourself, some community or passion to redirect your extra energy into.