It’s not the greatest picture of me, but if you look closely you’ll notice the signs behind me are in Japanese. That’s because I’m in Japan covering the Mariners during their Opening Series against the Oakland A’s.
That picture was taken during my night off, when I was just enjoying the game as a fan. Just minutes before the picture was taken, a couple Japanese businessmen approached the group of people I was sitting with and started chatting with the men about the Mariners and what it was like to watch a game at Safeco Field in Seattle. The men left me out of the conversation altogether, not realizing that I’m one of the broadcasters that cover the Mariners on a nightly basis. I would have been happy to converse with them, but they assumed I wasn’t the actual baseball fan in the group.
The whole exchange wasn’t a big deal but it could be a different story for you, if you make the same mistake with your colleagues. Sports topics are a great way to connect and make small talk with coworkers, don’t assume people aren’t fans based on their gender, nationality or any other factors you might consider. Use the topics below to start a conversation with anyone. If they’re not interested in talking sports then switch gears, but don’t rule it out until you try it.
PGA: It’s finally happened. Tiger Woods won his first PGA tournament since 2009 when a sex scandal unfolded involving Tiger and several mistresses. It’s been 30 months since he finished at the top of a leaderboard and he does it just in time for the Masters, golf’s first “major tournament” of the year.
PGA conversation starters:
- What does the win mean for Tiger?
- Does it improve his chances at the Masters?
NCAA: The Final Four is set. Just four teams remain in the NCAA tournament. Kentucky will face intrastate rival Louisville and Kansas will play Ohio State for the second time this season. The winner of those two games will play for the national championship April 2.
NCAA conversation starter:
- Who has momentum going into this weekend?
NFL: The NFL handed down punishments for “Bounty Gate” last week. That’s what some people are calling the issues surrounding the New Orleans Saints and the findings that some coaches paid players for injuring opponents during games. The Saints’ head coach Sean Payton was suspended an entire year without pay, and the Saints GM is banned for the team’s first 8 games. The former defensive coordinator who organized the bounties has been suspended indefinitely.
NFL conversation starters:
- What message does this send to other teams?
- How is this different from players being taught to play hard and hit hard?