The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Men’s Health magazine excoriated for 99-word article on how to talk to women about sports

Placeholder while article actions load

Guys — you know how it is.

It’s Sunday or, alternately, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday. You’re trying to watch NFL football or, alternately, college football, Canadian football, NBA basketball, NCAA basketball, baseball, soccer, hockey, golf, cricket, boxing, UFC fighting or the Olympics.

The game, match or contest is approaching its climax. But, just as the action’s unfolding, the woman with whom you are in a relationship comes ambling over. She wants to talk about something. Maybe it’s something trivial, like the new Bill Murray movie. Maybe it’s something important, like the mortgage. But whatever she wants to talk about, it’s distracting.

You wonder for the thousandth time: Why doesn’t this woman care about sports?

Well, there’s help for you out there. Men’s Health just published — and then said it deleted — an article called “The Secret to Talking Sports with Any Woman.” It’s only 99 words, but it’s got the germ of a good idea — right? Here’s the article in full, in case the magazine actually gets around to taking it down:

Not all women share your passion for sports, in case you hadn’t noticed. The reason? They need story lines.  
“Most women don’t care about stats,” says Andrei Markovits, Ph.D., coauthor of Sportista: Female Fandom in the United States. So while you’re enthusing about Dominic Moore’s scoring record, she’d rather hear about how he supported his wife’s battle with cancer—and even took a season off from the NHL at the height of his career. Treat your heroes as people and not just players on a field, and you’ll suck her in.
Just don’t expect her to wear the foam finger.

Andrei Markovits, co-author of “Sportista: Female Fandom in the United States,” is a University of Michigan professor with a pretty hefty resume — he probably knows something about women, too. In fact, in “Sportista,” he and Emily K. Albertson decried the sad fate of the female “outlier” interested in athletics:

Even though she, like her male teammates, has been more than likely to experience disappointments by not making it to the next level of the competitive scale, she will have internalized the idea that it’s okay to play with the boys. She will perceive the value in sport and in her own ability to play it. Hopefully, she will be able to hold on to this. Still, what will this acquisition of skill and immersion in passion — this process of becoming conversant with a culture whose main protagonists remain, if not openly hostile, then most decidedly suspicious of her — mean for her future in the world of sports, their production and consumption?

It goes without saying — readers reacted pretty poorly to Sabga’s 99 words.

In fact, the feedback was so negative that Men’s Health apologized — though, at press time, the piece was still