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.
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?