By Bill Simmons
Page 2 columnist

Minnesota Vikings fans
AP
Getting emotionally involved in a team can't hurt.

A burning question, courtesy of Virginia reader Kathleen Leicht: "There are ladies out there (like myself) who know sports and enjoy watching a good game with the guys, but I understand we need to convince guys to let us. Any suggestions?"

Well, here's the thing, Kathleen: Guys like watching sports with other guys. It's nothing personal, we just do. We're not asking for that much -- football on Sundays, a weekend in Vegas, the occasional male bonding night at the ballpark. Throw females into the mix, and we can't make the same inappropriate jokes or emit the same noises. We never forget for a single second there's a girl in the room -- so why bother?

But if you still insist on watching with us, follow these 10 ground rules and everything should be OK:

1. No PDA. If you're allowed to watch with your boyfriend and his buddies, don't rub his head, don't kiss his neck, don't scratch his back, don't cuddle ... don't do any of that stuff. By the way, the only thing that makes guys more uncomfortable than public affection is fighting, so if you feel the need to re-enact the limo scene from "What's Love Got to Do With It," do it on your own time.

2. There isn't a single acceptable situation for the question "Is this game almost over yet?" Not one.

Kevin Eubanks
Everyone can use a good audience like Kevin Eubanks, no matter how lame your jokes are.

3. When your boyfriend's buddy calls to discuss a game in progress, don't shake your head and definitely don't mutter spine-crumbling comments like "God, I hate your voice when you're talking to your friends." Needless phone calls are a crucial part of the viewing experience. They remind us we aren't the only ones wasting our Sundays. So leave us alone.

4. Don't complain about incessant remote-control flipping on Sunday. We know when to flip and we know where we're going. It's an innate gift. And we do it for a reason: We're trying to catch as much football as possible. Consider yourself lucky to be along for the ride.

5. Laugh at our jokes. Just pretend you're the bandleader on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno. Guys are easy. If someone's laughing with us, we like having them around.

6. Don't belittle our gambling or fantasy football. Comments like "You have a bookie?," or "I can't believe you guys pick players and pretend you're the coach," or, my personal favorite, "You guys need to get a life" are all guaranteed to make us hate you.

7. We're easily bribable, so bring something ... even if it's a bag of chips. If you cook something, even better (Rice Krispies Treats are always a winner).

8. Corollary: Whenever you get up, ask, "Can I get anyone anything?" Makes us feel like manly men. Plus, we don't have to get up.

Drew Bledsoe
Brush up on offseason transactions, such as where Drew Bledsoe landed, so you can watch the game with the boys.

9. Know your stuff. The moment you say something like, "Wait, I thought Drew Bledsoe was on the Patriots," you might as well pull a bag over your head. If you're clueless, keep it to rudimentary observations like "That was an unbelievable catch" or "This announcer is annoying." Never say, "Jon Gruden's so cute. He looks just like my old high school boyfriend!" Save that for the next "American Idol."

10. Along those same lines, an understated approach may just win our eternal respect. A few years ago, I was in Vermont with some friends. On a Sunday afternoon, while the boys were watching the Steelers, the girls returned from the slopes with their adorable ski bunny friend (the one who caused us to jostle in our seats to sneak peeks when she wasn't looking). The ski bunny notices the game, sits down and asks, "What's the score?" Typical girl question (right up there with "Who's playing?"), but since she was cute, we threw her a bone and gave her the score. Then, she drops this one on us: "How come Tomczak's in the game? Did O'Donnell get hurt?"

Nobody said anything. We did a collective quadruple take, eyes bulging out of our heads like Marty Mornhinweg. We were floored.

Finally, I answered: "Yeah, he's hurt. By the way, my name's Bill. Will you marry me?"

Turned out, she had a boyfriend. The great ones always do.

Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine.



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