keep it moving
Welcome to the Cut’s sports section. Like your favorite sports bar, but without the mansplaining.
In the second season of Sex and the City, the girls go on what I think is the perfect hang. It’s not a gallery opening or a new brunch spot; it’s nosebleeds at an afternoon Yankees game. They’re drinking beer out of plastic cups, ogling a hot new player, and talking about their love lives. Rewatching, I was reminded of all the times I’ve done something similar with my own friends.
If you’ve never rallied your group chat to go to a sporting event, I can’t recommend it enough. There are hot dogs; sometimes you’ll see a famous person; and if you’re really lucky, you can have the world’s ugliest T-shirt shot at you from a small cannon. However, not all sports are the same when it comes to chilling. Because I care, what follows is a list of the six major sports in America, ranked by how much fun it is to hang out at them.
Do not be fooled by how charming the Kelce brothers are on their podcast. Football is probably the worst sport for hanging out. Sure, it can be fun to watch a game on TV at home, but the actual in-person experience is not for those of us who are just looking for a fun place to hang out. (This ranking changes if you are a person who likes waking up early to get drunk in a parking lot. If that’s your style, then you would love football.)
During a three-hour game, there’s usually less than 20 minutes of the sport actually being played. That might sound ideal for chatting with your pals, but it’s really not worth the hassle. Especially in New York, it’s usually a nightmare to get to a football stadium if you don’t have a car. Even if you do, then you have to pay $10,000 to park it. Then when you get to your seats, you’re surrounded by men whose emotional lives are regulated by whether or not the Jets are any good (and they’re usually bad).
If you are looking for a venue where you and your friends can relax with a beer, this is not it. The NFL season runs from fall through the winter, so the weather isn’t even guaranteed to be on your side. At a recent game in Kansas City, the windchill was at -27 degrees; that same week, fans at a game in Buffalo were trudging through over a foot of snow to get to their seats. That kind of commitment is not what we’re going for here. Plus, all the players have their faces covered, so you can’t even really see who’s hot. Trust me, if you want to watch football with your friends, you can just do it from the couch.
I cannot truthfully speak to what it’s like to hang out at a tennis game, because I am not the heir to a shipping fortune. It seems like it would be more fun than football, but there are a lot of rules and sometimes the matches go on for a really long time. You also are not allowed to make noise outside of polite clapping and an occasional gasp. Where’s the fun in that? I will give tennis this: That honeydew cocktail at the U.S. Open looks really good.
If your crew runs aggro, you might love a hockey game. I would not usually recommend it as a girl’s night out, unless you love the thrill of knowing that two men might start fighting at any moment. I have no statistics backing this up, but it does seem like you are most likely to get a beer accidentally poured on you at a hockey game. While it’s a fun sport to watch, the energy is too wild for hanging out.
That said, I am intrigued by the newly created Professional Women’s Hockey League. The PWHL is setting attendance records for women’s hockey, and people seem to be having a lot of fun at those games. My heart is open, and I am willing to move hockey’s spot on this list if/when a PWHL game rocks my world.
I’m sure going to a men’s soccer game is fun. If you want to pay a ton of money to go see Messi in Miami, that’s your prerogative. I’m talking about women’s soccer, which ranks among having someone else wash your hair and going to the beach during the week on the list of life’s great activities. The game is fun to watch, the energy in the stadium usually feels less toxic than at a men’s game, and there’s gossip. I’ll rank football higher when two NFL players get married, get divorced, and then one of them immediately starts dating a One Tree Hill actor. Going to a soccer game is basically like going to a party and hanging out in the corner with your friends dishing about the other people at that party.
The sport loses points because if you’ve ever been to a game in a different country, you know that everyone else in the world takes it too seriously for it to ever be a place to casually hang. All my love to the beautiful game, but seeing what happens at a European football game makes American football fans look tame.
One of the crucial elements of a sports hang is that the game is easy to understand. What the hell is offsides? You don’t have to know anything about that at a basketball game. They’re trying to get the ball in the hoop for two points. If they shoot from farther away, they get an extra point. Since the game is simple to understand, you can devote your brain power toward what your friend’s situationship meant in that weird text.
The only real flaw in hanging out at a basketball game is that the game is too engrossing. There isn’t as much downtime as football or baseball, meaning that there’s always something happening on the court. The likelihood of becoming riveted at a Liberty vs. Aces game is too high for me to tell you that it’s a venue for chillers.
There’s a reason the SATC ladies didn’t go to a Knicks game. Baseball is simply the best sport for hanging out with your friends. You can basically always get a cheap ticket, the season is played during the nicest months of the year, and even your least sports-literate friend can understand “three strikes, you’re out.” Everyone’s going to have a good time.
Here’s my pitch, pun intended. Baseball is fun to watch, but you don’t really have to pay attention. If you don’t care about sports at all, there are usually at least three sing-alongs per game. If that’s not your jam, you will love the recent addition of the pitch clock, which makes it so that you can go to a night game at Citi Field and be back at your own apartment by 11 p.m. Baseball is for everyone, which means that it is the perfect sport for just hanging out.
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