After President Obama’s bravado inauguration speech about all of us celebrating who we are, I have decided that, at long last, that this is the time when I must “come out.”
For those of you who think that since I live in San Francisco, “coming out” is not a big deal, you don’t understand. I’m not announcing that I’m gay. My pronouncement is much more controversial in this town: To wit:
I am not a sports fan.
This is a tough thing to admit: the Super Bowl is a little over a week away, and the San Francisco 49ers are playing in it. This city is going nuts with anticipation. Walk anywhere and there are bold signs in windows imploring “Go Niners!” Otherwise sensible men are walking around in their best red and gold (team colors) attire. Two men can barely plop their gym bags down in the locker room before one of them exudes, “The Niners are going to kick butt!,” or something equivalent, to the resounding agreement by the listener. The city buses – the buses, for Christ’s sake – have been motoring around for months with the electronic chant “Go 49ers” displayed where the damn bus number and route should be. Needless to say, the newspapers and local TV stations are apoplectic with excitement, serving as free PR agents for the team.
And I don’t care one bit. Couldn’t be less interested.
Coming out as a non-fan is awkward, because people around here assume you’re rooting for the 49ers the way they assume you’re a Democrat. Strangers open conversations with it, as a way to introduce themselves. I imagine “How ’bout those Niners?” is being used as a pick-up line in bars. It’s about as controversial as saying “Nice day today,” to someone in an elevator.
So my deciding to answer these remarks with a disinterested shrug or a declarative “I don’t care” wasn’t so simple. It would be far easier just to smile wanly, nod and move on. Because once I say “I don’t care” it’s either followed by an uncomfortable silence, akin to me announcing I was just diagnosed with an STD, or the person looking at me oddly and inquiring, “Where are you from?” as if the only reason I couldn’t be ga-ga for the home team is because I’m from elsewhere, just passing through.
But how do I explain that every time I see a crazed fan on TV holding up a big foam finger and screaming “We’re Number 1!” I think he should instead be yelling “I decided to root for the winning team! I decided to root for the winning team!” because to me, that’s all being a fan is, and you are not part, in any way, of being a “we” with them. Or that for me to care passionately about a team, they would have to “stand” for something besides having the city-I-happen-to-live-in’s monicker plastered on their jerseys. Surely nobody sidling up to me bubbling “Go Niners!” wants to hear that, any more than someone asking “How you doin’?” wants to know how you’re “doin’.”
I was lucky enough to be out of town during the San Francisco Giants’ run to, and winning of the World Series (this has really been a nightmare year for a non-sports fan SF’er), so I could avoid going public, but now there’s no choice. If not being a sports fan is who I am, then the time has come to proudly stand up and declare, “I’m astute, I don’t root, Get used to it.” (It still needs some work).
It’s not Super Sunday I’m eagerly awaiting. It’s “Mundane Monday.” When all the fan hysteria subsides, and I can go back to leading a “normal” existence.