Thursday, March 10, 2005

Prove It!

It seems that some folks aren’t so sure about this ‘getting to know you’ stuff. I’m big on proof, so here’s your chance to see it for yourself in some quantifiable way. I feel comfortable promising some extraordinary results that should be convincing.

First, pick a sport that holds no interest for you – preferably one in season if you want to see the effects anytime soon. If you’re a sports nut already, choose a team with which you can’t be bothered or turn this task over to some sports-phobe with whom you have regular contact like a buddy, parent, or significant other. If you’re involving someone else, then you have a choice – they can choose to do this themselves or you can be a bit more sneaky about it though I certainly wouldn’t recommend anything illegal, unethical or immoral.

Got a sport in mind? Good. I happen to like baseball, so let’s use that one as an example. Now – pick a team if you haven’t already. This can be completely at random. You (or your test subject) can pick a name out of a hat, choose based on uniform colors or mascot, roll the dice, etc. You get the idea. I’ll choose the Seattle Mariners for my example.

Now, pick an individual on that team. This choice too can be rather arbitrary if you like; the only real requirement is that it be a person who’s likely to get some playing time. I’ve seen some people choose a player by nationality, a name they like, birth date, you name it. Have some real fun with this piece.

In my case, I’m picking Jose Lopez this season for the Mariners because I have zero clue who this kid is except that he hit a real sweet triple in their game the other day against the Brewers, giving the 2005 Mariners their first Spring Training win. If you’re trying to get your girlfriend interested in your favorite sport, you might try choosing a player that shares her birth date (you do know when that is, right?) and point out that he looks as great in tight pants as she does. Extra points if he plays for a rival team.

Okay – now you’ve got a person, a team and a sport. That’s the order too, so keep that in mind. Here’s the experiment… now that you’ve identified an individual, simply pay more attention to this person and what they’re up to during the sporting season. If you care to carry the experiment out that far, keep it up through the off-season too.

You can start by doing a Google search on the person and see what you can find out. With Jose, for instance, I can quickly confirm that he is one of the new kids on the block and that he’s Venezuelan. From there, simply let curiosity be your guide. I might be interested in finding out more about his hometown or digging into some of his stats. If I run across some numbers that don’t mean anything to me, then maybe I’ll find out more about them and what they’re good for.

Throughout the season, keep an eye on the sports pages for your person, or their team, or that sport – again, in that order. After your girlfriend becomes sufficiently convinced about why she should care about a particular player, you can always point out to her whenever you find accounts of him in the news if she doesn’t pick up on it quickly enough for your liking; keep track though – pretty soon, you’re likely to see her beat you to the punch. Hopefully you’re plenty secure in your manhood where sports are concerned. It’d be a shame to start feeling like you’re something “less than” just because she starts spouting on-base percentages when you’re barely tracking with RBI’s.

If it’s still slow to catch on or you simply want to see a new level of involvement, try wagering something small (and legal) on an outcome involving your player or your team with someone else who is also conducting this experiment or already has a vested interest themselves. Suggestions include who does the dishes, who pays for the next beer or who runs out for Cherry Garcia ice cream in the middle of the night. This is where it can get interesting having a girlfriend rooting for the team most likely to damage your own team’s prospects, so choose wisely!

Any worthwhile experiment of course includes a review of what's been discovered. Are you (or your test subject) more interested in your chosen sport? More knowledgable or conversant? More aware? My hypothesis is that the answer to most if not all of these questions is a resounding "Yes!" The key to my theory is that it's the relationship; once you build a relationship, more stuff happens and usually it's better than whatever happened without the relationship.

Prove me wrong if you like but I'll want proof you made a serious effort as well as some information about what you learned about why it didn't work. Whether your discoveries support or contradict my claims, I'm very interested in what you find out. I hope you'll send whatever useful data you collect to so that we can all continue to learn.

As an added incentive to comment, I have a limited number of magnetic Mariners schedules available for proud display on your filing cabinet or your refrigerator. They're perfect for planning your trips to the ballpark, tracking their broadcasting schedule or just trying to figure out what nights traffic is going to be bad. Be sure to let me know you want one and give me a good email address so I can arrange to send it to you.

How much more could you accomplish if you were more engaged with your work or your life?