85536415The greatest innovations known to man:

1) The wheel
2) Sliced bread
5) Lifetime/HGTV/Bravo Channels

Who among us would deny such great utility and pleasure? Too much of anything is never a good thing, unless you consider too much air or money a bad thing. The first three items are easily digestible, unless, too, that you want to argue against the merits of hauling heavy objects around, a good turkey sandwich or the computer that you are currently using. Good luck with that. It is the words next to items number four and five that give many pause.

Women: Why the fudge is ESPN on this list? This dude is chiefing that good.

Men: Lifetime?! Bravo? This dude must be chiefing that good!

[End Scene]

My esteemed colleague, Alaina Lewis, wrote a piece printed last week on the frustrations of dealing with a SportsCenter addict. Ladies, if you find a man addicted to SportsCenter, pause. Breathe. Then assess.

ESPN provides a respite from whatever we’re doing in ways that a female cannot. It’s a healthy habit, one that insulates many men from the troubles and annoyances that besieges us like a rabid group of vampires in a Quentin Tarantino flick.

Before women, there were sports. Axiom of life.

Sports is the ultimate rite of passage in a man’s socialization process. Copious five-on-fives in the streets and the gym. Endless football games. Baseball. Tennis and soccer for the eclectic types. Throw in swimming if a guy was lucky enough to have parents who steered them in that direction. Take us off the streets in and into confines and you then have to contend with Madden, NBA Live, MLB 2K and Tiger Woods on the Xbox and Playstation. And this is all before acne.

Once the pimples start occurring with massive regularity, the situation still remains unabated. Only this time, however, the thrill of the chase of the woman starts to seep in. A man is faced with the task of having to reconcile his affinity for sports with this burgeoning feeling of uncontrollable lust. SportsCenter is still primary in his mind and heart, but the sweet nectar of the female anatomy and voice is fast approaching to the lead. By high school, like Secretariat in the ’73 Kentucky Derby, she has taken the lead in impressive fashion. And for the first time, she is actually a physical embodiment and not an athletic endeavor.

As a teenager, the guy still hopes of being the professional athlete that he grew up admiring. He longs to get paid millions to play a game, the ultimate in efficiency. It sure as heavens beat working at a cubicle all day, every day. Therefore, she needs not rest on her laurels, for her position at this top spot is tenuous. One wrong step, one heartbreak, one scandalous action and her lead is lost. And true enough, there will be a misstep. You couldn’t shoot a gun in New York City without hitting some guy who has been jaded by the actions of some lady he loved. You couldn’t shoot a gun in Montana and not find one. So true to form, he retreats back to the one thing that has always given solace: the advocacy of the pending touchdown, stiff-arm, home run and dunk. Poetry in motion; the closest thing to a sure thing he has in life.

Fast-forward 15 years.

The dream of pursuing that athletic venture that virtually every man harbors is now eradicated. But that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a vicarious way of dealing with this disappointment. Hence, the vice of Monday Night Football, all day Sunday football and March Madness. A woman coming across the staunch sports fan doesn’t stand a chance to supercede, so she would be wise to do the following:

1) Don’t try to buck the system.

Refer back to the axiom above. It’s tried-and-tested, Six Sigma certified. If a woman is “lucky” enough to find a dude not preoccupied with the latest scores and headlines, then she is dealing with another breed. A breed that I know nothing about, along with homosexual men, men who love neat rooms and men who love to watch the Lifetime channel (more on this later). A woman would be better served if she grabs the nearest encyclopedia (or in the digital age, go to Wikipedia) and learn the rudiments of the sports her man loves. I once had a girlfriend who learned everything she could about baseball – reading encyclopedias, learning key players, historical and current – because I was into it so much. It made things interesting, and even delayed the inevitable break-up for another year.

2) Find something that your man hates, and pursue it.

This sounds counter-intuitive, I know. But if you love reality shows and he doesn’t, then you can have carte blanche and unfettered access to your show of choice, provided that it isn’t on the same television he’s using. People may think that drives couples apart, but it actually does the opposite. It enables both parties to enjoy what they want in privacy so they can “miss” each other. Such actions provide a sense of freshness to a relationship. Newness never hurt any relationship.

3) Do the obvious: Take a seat and enjoy the show!

Kind of like the first kernel of wisdom, but with a twist. This is all-out participation. I’m talking about the works: bringing out the chips and dip, beer and nachos, placing it on the table and showing some genuine enthusiasm for the sport. Ladies need not be fully knowledgeable either. Who cares about how many majors Tiger Woods won? Alex Rodriguez has how many homers? Doesn’t matter. It helps, but it’s merely extra-credit. If a guy invites you to come to a game with him, don’t view it as selfishness-cloaked-in companionship. This could be his way of bringing you in his world.

It’s a two-way street though. If you immerse yourself in his world, you have every right to ask him to immerse himself in yours. If he refuses, then take to yourself and watch Lifetime all day Sunday while he checks out the litany on Fox. He’ll eventually come back calling, because sports, after all, doesn’t replace the basic pleasure of a female presence. When he comes calling, he’ll have purged his sports fix and he’ll come back not begrudgingly, but willingly and happily. In this case, patience – or delayed gratification – is not superfluous, but a necessity.

Men have sports; women have Lifetime, Bravo and HGTV and all the other stuff that we hate. Both are the keys to a successful relationship. A great play requires an intermission. It’s only so much face sucking people can do in a relationship; people gotta do what makes them happy on an individual level. But if you aren’t spending some time with each other because you’re both stuck in front of the tube, then that’s another issue. That problem is deeper than a sports addiction.

Some things are necessary to drop for a successful relationship. The relinquishing of a functioning sports addiction is not one of them.

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