Don’t Strike Out: How to Date a Die-Hard Sports Fan … of Your Rival Team

By Jessica Hartman, Certified eFlirter

Hi. My name is Jess and I’m a baseball-aholic. But I’m not a fan of just any baseball team — I’m talking about the Tampa Bay Rays. I’m the person who used to live 10 minutes from the stadium and cheered them on when they were the worst team in the league. Call me a bandwagoner and you’ll be lucky if I let you live.

About three years ago I moved smack dab into enemy territory — New York City, also known as Yankee Country. The Rays/Yankees rivalry might not be as well known as the one between the Yanks and the Boston Red Sox, but because they train in Tampa, fellow natives like me feel the same way as those from Massachusetts. So what’s a girl to do? I can’t automatically write off every cute Yankee fan in New York or there wouldn’t be anyone left to date!

While having mutual passion for something like sports is usually a good thing in a relationship, it can turn ugly when competition is thrown in the middle of it. This is a common problem amongst any sport, especially when there’s a fierce rivalry in the same city. Yankees and Mets, Angels and Dodgers, the White Sox and Cubs — can’t we all just get along? Here are a few tips to keeping the peace during the season:

Keep competition friendly — really.  It’s perfectly fine to take a few digs at each other. Remember those playground days when you used to pick on the boy or girl you had a crush on? This is a similar field. Playful trash talk is a great way to flirt. Just be careful not to cross the line.

Watch what you drink.  Beer and sports go hand in hand, but a few too many drinks can turn good-humored jabs into a serious fight faster than you can say, “You’re out!” Stick to two or three drinks per game to be safe.

Know when to shut up.  Watch for signs that your partner is getting legitimately annoyed. Red flags include sudden silent treatment, refusal to reciprocate trash talk and looking away. Sports fans are passionate about their teams and if you’ve crossed a line, it’s time to be quiet — even if you don’t think you’ve done anything wrong.

Place fun bets.  “Loser buys dessert” and other exciting wagers can make the loss a little easier to swallow. Winner, listen up — it’s fine to gloat a little, but make sure to be genuinely thankful when your date (aka ‘the loser’) makes good on his or her bet.

Be a good sport.  It’s never fun when your team loses, but remember: there’s always the next game — or at the worst, next year. It’s not the end of the world; don’t take it out on your significant other.

Finally, here’s one last tip for the ultimate challenge in a couple’s dating life — the playoff game when your favorite teams verse each other:

Space is OK.  If you’re both truly hard core fans and your teams are facing off in a playoff game, it might be a good idea to watch it separately. Seriously. This doesn’t mean anything is wrong with your relationship; it just means you’re taking precautions and preventing an ugly situation. That way you can yell, curse and gloat during the game with your fellow fans without having to worry about offending your partner, which you surely will. Just make sure to do something extra special for whoever loses.

Have other tips for fellow sport rival lovers? Share below!