Great news, Boston #sports fans: The Patriots are in the playoffs! Bad news, Boston #notsports fans: The Patriots are in the playoffs!
Talk in the office this week will largely revolve around everyone’s favorite modern-day spandex-wearing gladiators, and you will be invited to parties this weekend where the sole purpose of getting together is to watch the game (and eat things covered in cheese while plowing through beers).
Those of us who don’t get super jazzed about yelling at the TV about rushing yards, touchdowns, safeties, offsides, and any other actions that happen in a football game that I’ve yet to discover will still go to these parties. We will either be dragged along by significant others or we will show up of our own accord because we suffer from massive cases of FOMO.
But just because we’re going to be there doesn’t mean we’re going to talk about #sports. No, we’re going to be sneaky. We’re going to trick everyone into talking about #notsports. And we’re going to be so good at it that they won’t even realize how far from the gridiron (look how #sportsy I am) they’ve strayed.
Here are the topics you can broach and the subsequent conversational paths you can take to shift focus away from the game. Some have higher success rates than others, but all are worth a shot.
HOW MURDERY BOTH TEAMS HAVE BEEN
Opening line: “Both teams are tangentially connected to murders!’’
How to keep it going: You can talk about Ray Lewis’s trial, about whether you think Hernandez did it, what Ray Lewis is up to these days, and what Tom Brady thought about the whole Hernandez thing. The point of each of these conversation starters is generally to get to Tom Brady as quickly as possible, because then you can talk about Gisele’s instagram, which is the best thing to ever grace the internet.
WHAT REFEREES DO WHEN THEY’RE NOT REFEREEING
Opening line: “Whoah, yeah, you’re all right! That call was stupid! That ref is the worst! Also, what do you think that ref does on Tuesdays?’’
How to keep it going: Pull up the referee-in-question’s Wikipedia page and then loudly announce what he does. You can get a lot of mileage out of this, because you can just keep looking up random refs; Ed Hochuli (he’s a lawyer) is a good one, because his Wikipedia page is long, which is great for reading the whole thing out loud.
It’s also a good idea to talk about how many frequent flier miles the refs must’ve racked up, and whether it’s tough to find a work-life balance when you’re a ref and a principal of a high school. You can also wonder aloud whether these guys’ significant others go to the games and, if not, if they cheat on them.
Opening line: Absolutely anything with his name in the sentence. You could even just say “Gronk’’ and see what happens.
How to keep it going: The possibilities are endless when it comes to talking about #notsports regarding everyone’s favorite big, dumb, adorable, wildly talented football player. You can talk about how he posed with kittens. You can talk about how Gronk Erotica is a thing. You can talk about how his tweets are perfect. You can talk about how his hands are the size of baseball gloves and how he could probably pick you up just by palming your head.
Opening line: This one’s obvious. Just talk about an ad as it happens.
How to keep it going: You can’t. Once the ad ends, so does the conversation. Don’t be that guy.
What the players eat
Opening line: “Number 75 is huge, I wonder how much he weighs. I wonder what he eats. How much do you think he eats? What do you think he has for dinner before game-days? What do most players eat before games?’’
How to keep it going: Someone will definitely take the bait on this one. It’s going to be that one person who read that one random article last year, or the one who’s obsessed with protein shakes and always tries to get everyone around him to drink protein shakes. He’s going to suggest you drink protein shakes, too, which you won’t do because they’re gross and you never lift weights. But at least you’re not discussing LaGarette Blount’s career at Oregon.
WHO BROUGHT THE BEST SNACKS
Opening line: “Hey Lauren, your buffalo chicken dip is so much better than Dave’s pigs in blankets.’’
How to keep it going: Chances are that if you’re with a group of people who love watching other people bash their heads against each other in the name of winning (also known as #sports), they’re going to be competitive. Using this to your advantage to get people worried that someone else might have brought a better Frank’s Red Hot-drenched food is a great way to shift the focus from the actual game. It’s also a great way to stir the pot and create some friction among your friends.
Bonus: Propose a taste test if two people brought the same thing. Then you won’t even have to watch—let alone talk—about the game for a while.
Opening line: “Football players wear cleats. Cleats are shoes. I love shoes! What do you think about these boots on sale right now?’’
How to keep it going: This is, admittedly, a stretch, but you might be able to pull one person into an individual conversation. Lean over and put your phone in front of their face, with a photo of the shoes in question pulled up on the screen, and ask for their opinion.
Make sure your phone has a case on it because it will probably get swatted away. And if it breaks, you won’t be able to stalk Gisele when everyone gets sick of your #notsports talk and banishes you to the kitchen to melt more cheese onto stuff.