If you don’t know your first down from your first base or your offside from your backside, check out these tips:
1- Choose a team
Of course it’s okay not to have a favorite team, but if you’re just looking to fake your way through a conversation, the easiest way is either pick your local team.
One you pick a team, check the team’s results on the web, then sympathize with fellow fans when your adopted team sucks and slap them on the back when the team wins.
2- Learn who to hate.
Usually the team to hate also happens to be the league’s biggest, richest, and most successful team. Find out who this team is and complain loudly about them at every opportunity.
It’ll endear you to your fellow fans, and you’ll score instant non-bandwagon credibility.
3- Embrace statistics.
The single most important way to sound like you know about sports is to rattle off statistics. Lots of them. Throw them around with reckless abandon. Blind your audience with science.
4. Learn the jargon
Every sport comes with its own vocabulary, one that’s often rich and poetic in its own way. Using it instantly makes you sound like you know what you’re talking about.
5. Learn the truisms
Sport also comes with its own philosophy, one that can basically be boiled down as follows: it’s the unglamorous, unflashy aspects of the game that win championships. This exact nature of this idea varies from sport to sport depending on the nature of the game, but is often expressed as a convenient catchphrase. (Golf, for instance: “Drive for show, putt for dough.”) Deploy this piece of homespun wisdom judiciously every so often during the course of the game you’re watching. Nod while doing so.
6. Read Moneyball
It’s a great read even if you’re not remotely interested in baseball. It’ll also give you one ready-made topic of conversation with pretty much every sports fan you’ll ever meet — either enthusing about how good it is with people who’ve read it, or extolling its virtues to people who haven’t.
7. Complain about the referee
The one thing that every sport in the entire universe has in common: no-one likes the poor old ref. Complain about his/her performance vociferously. Everyone will agree with you.
8. Learn the rules
Still, if you’re going to complain about the referee, you’re going to have to know the rules. Just the basic ones, at least — every sport comes with its own weird quirks and loopholes and exceptions etc, and no-one’s going to expect you to know all these… But at least know enough that you don’t have to keep asking the difference between a charge and a block, or for someone to explain the offside rule to you again.
9. Don’t mention the Kardashians
Seriously. No-one who actually likes sport gives the remotest semblance of a hoot about who Lamar Odom/Kris Humphries/etc is sleeping with.
10. Conquer snobbery
Lastly, and most importantly, stop faking it. Embrace sport. There’s a pervasive view in society that sports are somehow lowbrow culture. This isn’t true in the slightest. There is beauty in sports, and grace, and savagery, and compelling narratives and a million other things to hold your interest.