I’m only here for the cheese dip

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Welcome to Sidelines, a space for people who live with sports fans, and love them anyway.


I recently compiled a comprehensive list of excellent reasons why I have no business writing a column for a sports themed website.

Since I didn’t get a chance to use any of them at the martini lunch where I was persuaded to write one anyway, I thought I could offer them here, by way of an introduction.


Here’s what you need to know:

  1. I don’t play sports.
  2. I don’t care about sports.
  3. I don’t understand sports.

These aren’t boasts or laments. They are just the facts.


My game face.


While it’s true I don’t play sports in any dedicated way, I have dabbled. Recently, I took tennis lessons because I really wanted to be able to wear a cute tennis skirt around town all day. I signed up for group lessons with a bunch of other women who were probably in it for the same reason. Think “Bad News Bears” meets “Desperate Housewives.”

It turns out I actually like playing tennis. Or I would, if I could get the hang of serving. I may not be an old dog yet, but my capacity for new tricks is not boundless. I can learn to hit a ball, or I can learn to toss a ball, I told my instructor. Choose one.

Also, I cannot possibly do either of those things while counting, so just quit asking me if I know what the score is.

I don’t wish to perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes here by coming across as the “math is hard!” Barbie doll of sports. My opinions are representative of no one but me.

But math is hard. And there is just too much of it in sports.

Especially in football. Numbers everywhere. On the uniforms, all over the field, on the scoreboard. It’s blinding. I can’t tell what’s going on.  Something happens for a very short time, then nothing happens for a very long time, repeated endlessly. It seems like a very inefficient game, and there are way, way too many people involved. I say give one guy a ball to put through a goal, and let another guy try and stop him. Set the timer for an hour, and nobody gets to pause it (fifteen minutes is fifteen minutes, dammit). That I could follow.

Like baseball, one of the few team sports I can make sense of. Only one thing is happening at time in baseball, and it all flows in the same direction. No inching forward by fits and starts. A player is on base, or he’s not. There are no imaginary lines drawn in between the plates. There isn’t a ton of gear obscuring the athletes’ bodies and faces. It’s linear and clear. Baseball has grace and elegance and style.

But I don’t care about it, either.

What I do care about are people. I like to watch people having fun, dressing up, acting a little crazy. I enjoy being around people who are passionate and excited and hopeful. I care about people’s traditions, what food they like to eat, what they remember from childhood, how they celebrate as a community.  Above all of that, I love people’s stories. Stories are my game. And sports are full of them.

So I’m in for that. Not as a fan or a player, but as an observer on the sidelines of a sporting culture. It’s a fun place to be, and I’ll be glad for you to join me here. I hope you brought cheese dip.

Kyran Pittman is the author of Planting Dandelions: Field Notes from a Semi-Domesticated Life. She is a frequent contributor to Good Housekeeping magazine, and continues to chronicle her semi-domesticated life at Planting Dandelions.com.

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