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Not a sports fan? Will it hurt your career and personal life?

     A recent post on BusinessWeek's Working Parents blog really got me thinking about sports  -- its role in work life balance, career advancement and acceptance into social circles. If you have no interest in sports and your kids have no interest as well, will you be excluded from conversation and invitations? Can it hurt your career?

   The blog post notes a bit of a brouhaha erupted recently over basketball games at the White House. Seems President Barack Obama likes to unwind over a friendly game of basketball, and invites a rotating squad of high-level Washington power brokers to join him on the White House court. All of them, of course, are men, a growing point of contention in the feminist blogosphere.

     Apparently, there's a sports heavy atmosphere in the White House. Blogger Cathy Arnst writes: "I'm particularly sensitive to this issue because I have no interest in professional sports. This failure on my part has often left me looking on with a weak smile while the editors I've worked for throughout my career (virtually all men) talked about last night's game. I despise football (the remnants of growing up in a football-mad small town), I couldn't care less about March Madness, and though I do pay slight attention to the Red Sox, I am not all that interested in the World Series when they aren't in it. Nor do I know the first thing about tennis or golf. Has that hurt my career? Who knows? I'm guessing that there are plenty of work environments where it would.

     I truly believe that the failure to have any interest in sports can hurt your career -- male or female. I'm a huge Florida Gators fan. It's helped me bond over the years with co-workers and bosses who either root for my team or against it. I've made bets with my bosses who have had to take me to lunch when their teams have lost. It has helped me bond in ways that I would not have otherwise. My kids play sports. That's helped me bond over the years with other parents. I even have drummed up sources for articles while sitting on the sidelines cheering on my kids' teams. I've seen my husband network with other men by using last night's football score as his opener. I'm not saying it is impossible to get ahead if you have no interest in sports, but I am saying it helps if you do -- whether you are in the White House or the office cubicle. 

   Sports                             So what do you think of the question Arnst poses: Is facility with a ball, or knowledge of last night's scores, an important career booster in your office? Here's the question I would add: Have you ever felt excluded in your work or personal life for having no interest in sports?




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Moral of the story: Let's Go Yankees!


I'm not a big sports fan - I see it as the equivalent of "US Weekly" for men. When a groupd of guys get together they end up talking about sports, teams and players, as if they had a personal stake in any of it - and then they turn around and degrade the conversations women have about fashion and celebrity gossip.

This perspective has obviously rendered me the black sheep in most groups, and yes, it does hurt you to some extent. It excludes you from conversations (whether they are worth having or not), and you are pretty much a target of ridicule if a game is on with everyone in the room continuously asking you if you understand what's going on.

The trick - make a joke of it. If you can openly admit that you don't care for sports, but yet keep a 'good sport' attitude by making a joke of the situation (purposely misusing sports references and metaphors, for example) it could actually work to you advantage.

Plus, you get to go on living happily with the notion that your Sundays will not be ruined with an overwhelming feeling of defeat if 'your' team didn't win.

Cathy Arnst

Cindy -- You've outed me as an anti-sportite in sports-mad Florida. I will have to visit incognito from now on! However, I will let you in on a secret that may put me back in good standing with your readers. Although I publicly disdain football, I secretly root for the Buffalo Bills, my hometown team. I ought to get a little sympathy for that! Plus, I really would like to see the Yankees take the series. Don't tell anyone.
Love your column,

Cathy Arnst, BusinessWeek

Nancy Lloyd

I do not like sports at all. It has not hurt me nor helped me, have not been excluded in my work or personal life. I think we are putting too much emphasis on sports instead of education, maybe because the players are paid ridiculous salaries for hitting a ball or... Young people want to get in the game. But have you noticed, most of those players do not even know how to express themselves, not to read or have an education. Just pure luck and practice they get to earn what we dream of. I will not contribute to get them richer, so I do not like any sports and my life is fine.

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