5 Things to Say While Watching Sports When You Don’t Know Anything About Sports

Photo of Jewell Cardinals vs. Fort Lewis Football teams; Sept. 2, 2023. (William Jewell College/William Jewell Photo)

Were you invited to a Super Bowl party but don’t know who’s playing? Maybe your best friend is a huge fan of the Baltimore… Bills? Don’t know who Patrick Mahomes is and at this point you’re too afraid to ask? Look no further, this is the article for you. 

The Super Bowl is one of the biggest television events of the year. It’s the one day when it seems like everyone, even those who don’t care about football the other 364 days, suddenly come out with very strong opinions about what a bunch of millionaire men do or don’t do with a ball. I’m not here to turn you into a die-hard fan. If you’re tired of “Superb Owl” jokes, or saying you only watch for the commercials, or having nothing to talk to your friends about until the halftime show, then I’m here to help. 

These tips are applicable to most sports, but particularly to team sports, and can be adapted at your own discretion. Here are my top five things to say while watching a sporting event to convince others that you totally understand what’s going on: 

(William Jewell College/Koda Rose)

1. “Consistency”
How to use it:
“So long as we stay consistent…”
“If we can just stay consistent…”
“I’ve been saying it all season. It’s in the consistency.”

When to use it: When the conversation turns to discussing performance or strategy, also known as couch coaching or armchair quarterbacking. It’s particularly useful when the team your friends are cheering for messes up. This kind of talk is typically critical, but this is a good and versatile phrase to use. It’s also unique enough that you shouldn’t be suspected of simply parroting buzzwords. 

2. “Stay healthy”
How to use it:
“The players need to stay healthy.”
“We need to play smart and not get hurt.”
“There’s been a lot of injuries this season.”

Keep your tone light while still sounding like what you’re saying means something. Don’t be so serious as to let them think that you have strong feelings about a particular player or incident.
When to use it: Like talking about consistency, this is a good neutral option. You can throw this one out during small talk pretty much anytime. During a game, you can say this whenever someone on your team gets hurt. 

3. “Let’s hold on to it”
How to use it:
“Let’s see if we can hold on to the lead.”
“We need to hold on to the lead.”
“Alright, in the lead, let’s hold on to it.”

When to use it: This one requires you to be sure that the team you (or your friends) want to win is the one currently winning. Toss this out during the celebration moment after they’ve taken a lead, or when the other team scores and gets close to overtaking your team. This is a good one to use when your team is winning near the end of the game. 

4. “Big plays”
How to use it:
“Let’s see some big plays out there.”
“We’re playing too much small ball.”
“We need a big play. Make something happen.”

When to use it: When things are getting boring and your team isn’t doing great. At some point past the halfway mark, there’s bound to be a lull in the proceedings. This is a good thing to say to kindly pump some energy back into the room. You can also use this one anytime your team hasn’t done anything exciting in a while, especially when losing. Some games are just bad to watch, and this is a nice, optimistic contribution. 

(William Jewell College/Koda Rose)

5. Pick a non-score number on the screen and say it like it means something. 
How to use it: 
“Only eight minutes left!”
“52 passing yards already?”

When to use it: This tip requires you to pay attention a bit to the function of the scoreboard. The score should be easy to find. Don’t say that one. There might also be a small number that keeps counting down separate from the game clock that starts at either 40 or 25. Don’t say that one either unless it’s about to hit zero. For all other numbers, you’re probably safe. The game time is a good one because it’s easy to find on the screen and will make it look like you’re staying invested in following the game. If you still aren’t sure, take note of what numbers everyone else is saying and use those. 

6. Extra: Just ask questions 
How to use it:
We all love to talk about the stuff we like. Sports fans love to talk about sports. Odds are that whoever you’re watching with won’t care if you don’t know a touchback from a technical foul, and if they do, they probably won’t be fun to watch a game with anyway.

Let yourself be curious, but don’t expect them to walk you through every single second. Ask about words you don’t understand, rules that you can’t figure out, or what a statistic is measuring. Try guessing what the referee is going to call or complain if they make a call against your team. Throw in your two cents about the slow-motion replay. 

Whatever you do, remember that at the end of the day, it’s just a game and games are supposed to be fun. Get out there and have a good time!

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