Sports and Advice from Tracee Hamilton and Carolyn Hax

Nov 28, 2011

In her daily column in The Washington Post Style section, Carolyn Hax offers readers advice based on the experiences of someone who's been there. Hax is an ex-repatriated New Englander with a liberal arts degree and a lot of opinions and that's about it, really, when you get right down to it. Oh, and the shoes. A lot of shoes.

Carolyn was online Friday, Nov. 18 at noon ET, taking your questions and comments about her current advice column and any other questions you might have about the strange train we call life. Her answers may appear online or in an upcoming column.

E-mail Carolyn at

Got more to say? Check out Carolyn's discussion group, Hax-Philes. Comments submitted to the chat may be used in the discussion group.

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Hi everybody. Tracee is caught up in the Boudreau firing news, but I think she's here somewhere ... 

He looked so angry during the game.

If there's a game where he looked jolly, Denver era included, I'd like to see footage. 

But at 7:25 p.m. ET, he smiled. It was like a rainbow.

I just want to say how awesome it is that you two are finally in the same chatspace together. If this is successful, could it become a Regular Thing?

It was so hard to find a day we could get together that I doubt it would be regular, but we'll see if we can do it from time to time if it works.

We also don't want to wear out our welcome. 

Two years and out? KU must be rolling in (your) dough. Maybe they could hire Edsall.

I won't make Carolyn answer this. What happened at KU is what is happening at Maryland except we're a year further down the road. He IS Edsall in a LOT of ways. I had my reasons for wanting him gone and not sorry he is. The amount of my giving to the athletic department is nil, so it can spend its money as it pleases.

My two favorite hosts in one chat! Maybe this question is better for the Carolyn's crazy holiday chat, but here goes: do either of you have suggestions to make a Christmas tree more homey? Our old holiday decorations got flooded out, so after buying a new tree/lights/ornaments, it looks strangely perfect. Like department store perfect. The peanuts can answer too. Thanks!

That is so sad! Do your folks have any ornaments you might have made as a kid, or are those the ones that got flooded? This would kill me. Our tree at home has 90% ornaments I made when I was living at home. I have 90% penguins, for some reason. Anyway, what about having a Christmas party (might be too late this year) and asking each guest to bring a handmade ornament (instead of the requisite bottle of wine or plate of cookies)? Not necessarily something they made themselves but not a ball out of a package? That will give your tree an eclectic look.

Carolyn, thoughts?

I have a bias more than an answer: Your old stuff looked great because it took years and meant something to you. So, you can't fix that in less than a month.

You can accelerate it, though, by trying Tracee's ideas. You can also try what I've been doing for about the last decade. Instead of collecting souvenirs from places (i hate clutter) I buy Christmas ornaments. Just about every place we go has something, even in June, and now just about everything on our tree has a story behind it. 

It also means that if you lose everything again, you'll lose a lot more than ornaments, so invest in a good storage box.



What if one guy is really nice, eager to please, but just throws short passes? What if the other guy is reckless, will throw into coverage, but sometimes inspire me? Should I marry either of these guys or should I wait a year and try to find someone younger, preferably just out of college? Am I naive in thinking that the right guy is out there for me?

Wait and draft Andrew Luck next April.

This seems like an online conversation on cupcakes and car maintenance, or tax planning and jogging. It's not that the two things are bad or good, it's that they don't go together or have anything in common. As a woman, I've been feeling that sexism is making a quiet comeback lately in too many ways, from pop culture interest in 50s and 60s office culture to the "new domesticity." Please tell me you aren't hosting this together because you are both women. I'm really hoping there's a good idea buried in here and not just a return to the "women's pages" in 21st century form.

Ha! No, that has nothing to do with it. Carolyn is a big sports fan; I'm a big fan of Carolyn's chat. Someone on my chat suggested we do a combined chat and get Carolyn's take on sports and my take on bridezillas. The idea was to have FUN. I realize fun has gone out of style but that was the intent.

My daughter brought home a new boyfriend this weekend. He's very personable, and nice-looking, and dazzled us with his faux-hawk the first day. He did great with the grandparents and dogs. Through the whole weekend the only thing I found not to like about him (and I wanted to like him!) was--he spent all day sunday in front of the tube (ok, he's a Patriots fan), and he works in IT and I think he's one of those IT guys who makes fun of people instead of realizing that its what the computer-clueless people do for the company that allows IT to have jobs. Question: are these legitimate concerns? I think they are getting serious.

I say no. He passed the grandparents and dogs test. He watched football on Sunday -- like many, many people. And even if he's an IT person who makes fun of people, he's an IT person. As someone whose home computer recently blew up, I wouldn't have minded being made fun of if I had had a son-in-law to come and retrieve my hard drive and reinstall everything for free. I could put up with a lot for that son-in-law. So I say keep an open mind, but so far, these aren't biggies.

I'm with Tracee here--having an IT person in the family who passed the good-sport test might even make me forget the faux-hawk. (Close call.) Plus, the Patriots are the perfect team to geek out by, so he's also showing signs of internal consistency, suggesting you can trust what you see.

Between Boswell's informative chats and this awesome pairing, I'm not sure how I'm going to finish my online shopping today (not to mention actual work). Bravo to whomever made this happen...

How are Carolyn and I going to finish OUR online shopping today? Oh dear...

I'm not much of a sports fan and am pretty sensitive to excessive noise. But the rest of my family is obsessed with sports. Obsessed to the point where the television is on at full blast at all gatherings, and of course, this time of year, there's a lot of those. I can, and do, go into another room, take a couple of ibuprophen for the headache that is caused by the overloud television and screaming couch potatoes, and take my book out for some quiet time. I also have gone outside for a bit of air and exercise with the kids, whose noise is much more tolerable. But I invariably am found by someone who goes looking for me and quizzes me about why I'm not in watching the game. "Not my thing" is my answer and the response is invariably, "oh, stop it and come in. You'll love it if you just watch it." The culprit is invariably an in law, or my own father, but never my husband, thankfully. But that means I have to be polite and not snap back something along the lines of "Buzz off". I end up, reluctantly, putting my book down or leaving the kids and going back into the other room, gritting my teeth and praying for a quick end of whatever football/hockey event is going on. I've tried diversionary tactics like offering to take the kids (none under 8) out to a park for a while, or going to the mall with them, or preparing and bringing in snacks, etc. I could manage the noise of all that. But inevitably, that only postpones the problem. My husband sees the raging headaches that are the inevitable aftermath of all this, and is sympathetic, but when the game is on, he forgets, and then feels guilty. How do I make these people understand that I a) don't like the sports fest and b) the noise is extremely painful? Thanks.

When I go to events, I keep a package of foam earplugs in my computer bag, and I'm not the other writer who does. The decibel level at arenas is bad; I'm glad I'm not at your house! Have you tried that? Sorry it that's a simple and obvious answer but they can help. I'm suggesting wearing them while reading your book in another room, by the way. I don't see any reason you should have to subject yourself to hours of watching of something your not interesting in, whether it's sports or anything else. Some people are much more susceptible to loud noises than others; it doesn't mean you have to tolerate being tortured.

Earplugs, yes, but also a spine. There are lots of civil ways to say "buzz off." For example, you can say, "I'll make a deal with you--I won't nag you to read/play with the kids/go for a walk if you don't nag me to watch the game." Or just, "Tried that, no thanks," when you get the "You'll love it" line.  Keep it light and keep it consistent, even if you reduce your answer to a mere wave of the hand--the non-verbal, "Go, off to your game, buh-bye."

The up side is, they want to include you/get your validation, so hold on to that when the "Buzz off" is close to forcing its way out of your mouth.

Or at least one of those who cheered AYE! Isn't is sexist to assume this is a joint chat just because you both happen to be women?

Well, I thought it was ... odd, to say the least. We're hardly the only two women at the Post, for starters.

what the heck is a "faux hawk"?

One of these.

Look-at-me hair for the noncommittal.

I'm a middle-age single woman in DC, more interested in sports than most of my friends. On occasion, I'd like to go to a Sports Bar and watch my alma mater play on tv (transplant from Midwest) but the reality of a singleton walking into a bar by myself and not getting the stink-eye from the groups of pretty young things makes it very difficult. Any advice on getting up the courage and not feeling like an "L" is tattooed on my forehead?

Does your alumni group have gatherings? You'd find more folks your own age at those if it's really a problem.

If not, I say do it once, and you'll find it's not that bad. I'm a middle-age single woman in DC and I do a lot of things on my own, so I know exactly what you're saying, but I promise you it won't be so bad. And you might find that those pretty young things are big fans and a lot of fun to boot. Give it a try.

How much trash are you allowed to talk if you are a say a Pens fan and date a Caps fan or the reverse. Or any other rivals for that matter?

That depends on the personality of the person in question, I think. Some people can't take it. Some can. And that may be a deciding factor in whether you are dating, one of these days. But you have to be able to take it yourself. I've known people who were great dishers and bad takers. A very unattractive quality in a boy/girlfriend.

Hi. I like the combined chat idea, and I think I have a question both of you would like to tackle (heh): I am a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan. My husband (who didn't like sports at all before we got together) is slowly becoming a Chicago Bears fan. Do you have any advice for me about how to navigate this? I like the fact that he's getting into football, but I'm having a hard time with his rooting for the "wrong" team! If he really gets into the Bears, I can imagine things getting pretty tense when the teams play each other twice a season. Any advice?

This seems a little passive-aggressive to me. Of all the teams he could have picked, he picked the Bears? Was there a reason? Big Jay Cutler fan? If there's a real reason he chose the Bears (there's nothing wrong with the Bears) then fine, but if he thought to himself, "What team would really irk her?" then all the little alarm bells should be sounding, I think.

But as for things getting tense when they play, I think you can mitigate that. A lot of families send kids to rival colleges and they survive. Heck, the Harbaugh brothers played each other on Thanksgiving. It only becomes a problem if you let it. Decide that you're going to have fun with it, or if you're unable to do that, decide that it's off-limits for discussion, but have some sort of guideline in place, and you'll be fine.

I agree on wanting to know why the Bears. If they live in the Chicago TV market is makes a lot of sense, and if they don't there's definitely a cloud of suspicion.

As for coexisting with a rival fan, yes, it is something you can work around--pretty easily, if you think about it. One thing to consider is that the fans are, in general, the ones who hold on hardest to rivalries, as players often remind them when they come up for free agency and start playing for the arch enemy. The affection for one player/coach/owner or another can have a basis in style of play or sportsmanship or media-conference aplomb, but otherwise, rooting for a team is rooting for a shirt. Assuming the suspicion clouds part and your relationship is solid, my advice is not to regard different shirts as a serious concern.

Paper is the way to go - every year I love cutting out paper snowflakes with different kinds of paper to hang on our tree. Fun for kids too! Paper garlands are also a classic.

Good suggestions. Paper garlands are great and now that there are so many different kinds of paper ... and you could string some popcorn. Or -- and I love the way this looks -- take your Christmas cookie cutters and use ribbons to tie them to the branches. Assuming you're not going to make cookies. Then again, I own an excessive amount of cookie cutters.

I would never let the hair be my deciding factor because hair changes. The grandparent/dog test never does.

Hello! Perfect chat mashup for my problem! My husband of 8 years is wonderful EXCEPT he's a huge fan of our local football team (KC Chiefs) They are awful, this year and every year, and their loses are seriously starting to affect our quality of life. He gets SO excited for football season, only to have his heart broken by their suckiness, which leads to depression, grumpiness, even loss of self esteem. I find myself losing patience with him. Why is so much of his identity wrapped up in his team (he was NOT this football crazy when I married him and each year it seems worse!) and how can I keep it from ruining our life together?

I'm a Chiefs fan and yes, they are awful, and yes, it is so important that you should let it ruin your life.

Just kidding about that last part. I should know the answer to why people get wrapped up in their favorite teams to the exclusion of everything else, but I don't. I know that being a sports journalist will cure you of that pretty quickly. I think you need to have a real heart-to-heart with him about this, but -- and I hate to say this -- I think it needs to come after the season. I don't think he'll be able to see himself clearly during the season. Save a few good examples and approach it from a "I'm worried about how much this is changing you" point of view. It's possible he hasn't even noticed this is happening. I can think of a few examples of my own from my own family but it's too late to save them. I hope you can help him -- or that the Chiefs get a lot better, which would be great. But not a long-term solution.

True. The way you describe your husband, it sounds as if he's using sports as a proxy, something that speaks for him more easily than he can speak for himself. Look for another source of unhappiness in his life* that he's using the Chiefs to express. Seriously.

If he had chosen a less frustrating team and was using it to feel some joy, the problem would still be the same--living and dying by a team is a very convenient distraction from other, more immediate and more consequential stuff--and it's more socially acceptable than, say, drinking to excess. Chances are people will just call you a rabid fan and let it go. 

*Look especially for stresses he feels he can't control, or the general stress of not being in control. Living through teams actually re-creates that sensation (since no matter how many times you say, "He never throws picks in this situation," it won't jinx the outcome), ironically, but it can feel like an escape from it temporarily.

Handmade ornaments from a fair-trade source warm up a tree. Sorry to hear your chatter lost everything in a flood. Regarding sports, I wonder what the Eagles will do about Andy Reid. I hate losing but aside from terrible clock-management, I like Andy, but I'm just a fan. And a woman (since we're mentioning that today.)

Yes, gender is important today. Andy Reid has been amazing in Philadelphia -- just for dumping McNabb on the Skins he should get a break -- but this has been such an amazing failure that it wouldn't surprise me to see him go. And get another job as soon as he wants.

Why not just be honest about the problem? Tell them you get raging headaches from the noise and need to be away from the TV and screaming. Anyone who wouldn't be sympathetic to that doesn't need more of an explanation anyway.

I was under the impression that had been tried, and had failed. But yes, of course, that should be the first attempt. If she can make herself heard. Or maybe she could hold up signs.

I used to be regular at a bar in Dupont Circle and we had young, old, middle-aged all hanging out together. The first day I showed up nobody gave me any stink eyes. If they had I would have just tried another place. I chose this particular bar because I played darts and it was a dart players bar. So immediately we had something to talk about. It would be the same if you can located whatever bar your alumnis hang out at. The Going Out Gurus usually know which bars different alumns flock to. You might ask them on one of their chats.

Your alumni association should also have a list of local chapters, and they should have the name of the local bar that hosts events. Every city seems to have them.

We have an ornament for each pet, which we usually buy at the flea market-type of shopping venues around the city (NYC) at holiday time. The original poster might want to try offbeat shops for more interesting ornaments.

That's a good idea, or antique stores if you want a really old look. I love the very old glass ornaments and collect them. Maybe you have a relative that no longer has a tree and would like to be rid of them? Worth asking.

Hy Carolyn and Tracee, I spent Thanksgiving with my boyfriend's family (a first for me), and, after the meal, the festivities turned to staring slack-jawed at the game on TV and playing with one's cell phone. I'm not interested in football, I don't have a cell phone to play with, and nobody would carry on a conversation, so I was incredibly bored. What should I have done? Can I bring a book along next time? Normally I would think that was rude, but given what everyone else was doing...

Only if it's an ebook. If it's not an electronic device, don't bring it out at the holidays.


Well, of course I'm kidding, and that's incredibly sad. Your boyfriend's family's first time to meet you and what an effort they made! And I assume your boyfriend joined right in. Worth making a mental note of this because this may be what they thinks is acceptable behavior for a guest or for a holiday. People burying themselves in their cell phones is never polite and yet it's becoming so widespread that that battle seems to be lost. So yes, I'd say, bring a book. And next year his parents will write Carolyn and say, "you won't believe it, but our son's girlfriend brought a book out after Thanksgiving dinner and read during the football game!"

Really? Even if it was a mullet?!

Even if it was a mullet. I don't know how old you are, but when I go back and look at the hairstyles from my youth, I throw up a little in my mouth. Hair is hair. It's not that big a deal. (I grew up in a house where it was a HUGE deal so this is my overreaction to that, I think. We all have our issues.)

Can you bring Dr. Gridlock in next week too? He always sounds vaguely lonely. I think it's all the time he spends sitting in traffic on our behalf.

Poor Dr. Gridlock. Now there's a thankless job.

It seems that every weekend (and during the spring, every night) there is some sporting event that my dear husband describes as " epic" and therefore unmissable. I do enjoy sports, but could be happy with the world series, college basketball final four, and the superbowl. So where (and how) do we draw the line of sports worth watching or okay to miss?

You mean where do "we" compromise? Depends on whether he's interested in compromising. Certainly tell him that the "epic" tag used more than once per sport per era ceases to have meaning--but that you get he wants to see certain games, so why not just say that instead of trying to whomp up proper justification?

This will be easier if, for your part, you don't expect him to miraculously become you and downgrade to a three-events-a-year schedule. It's possible he's using "epic" to try to pre-empt your criticism of his sports habit.

You might want to try a rating system, 1 to 10, of game anticipation. Have him give things a need-to-watch number, with the understanding that there will be a curve instead of 10-10-10-10-10, and in return you'll happily release him of all guilt for watching anything over a 6 (or whatever accruately represents your tolerance).

Loyalty, or low self-esteem?

I'm going with 3. Sense of community. There's unity in hopelessness, just ask pre-2004 Sox fans.

There's also pride in not being a bandwagon chaser, to the point of snobbery.  

Excellent answer, I think.

My husband and I are locals, life-long fans, coming of age in the Redskins glory days. We have been together since the 2003 season, and my husband is ruining watching Redskins games for me. He still expects them to be great, and gets mad - yelling, throwing a remote and stomping off mad - when they screw up. His solution is to just stop watching the games, but then I'm stuck watching alone, which just sucks the fun out of it for me - I know some people enjoy watching it alone, but not me. My daughter, now 3, will watch with me, but not for long. She loses interest when we go along time without singing Hail to the Redskins. I guess I'm just stuck, right? The only other option would be to go to some bar to watch with like-minded fans, but people frown so much on bringing toddlers to bars. Not to mention the expense. What's a long-suffering wife and fan to do?

Do you have any friends who like the Skins, maybe with kids so you could join them with your daughter? Because this sounds like an extremely unpleasant way to spend a Sunday. It's also not great behavior in front of a three-year-old. In fact, it's the behavior of a toddler. Not setting a great example. I get mad at times, I sing and yell and march, but I do not do these things around other people because I realize there's a tiny chance it might diminish their enjoyment. I'm sorry you have to put up with this. From reading the posts today, you are not the only one. Maybe we ought to start a club.

Carolyn, how often do you get messages from women whose partners won't come out of their mancaves on Sundays, whether we're talking football or NASCAR?

Almost never. You wouldn't know it from stale and moronic beer commercials, but a lot of women watch sports and a lot of men don't. And some of those sport-watching women aren't just in it to meet/impress men or undercut girly-girls. 

Not that this topic gets on my nerves or anything. Spoze that could explain why I don't get that question much.

Thanks for this chat! I am a huge football fan (both college and pro) but I've recently started reading quite a few articles about traumatic brain injury and how common and under-treated it is in both college and pro football players. It's pretty disturbing. I love the game, and I love spending that "fun" time relaxing and watching TV with my husband, but now I cringe with every tackle. How in good conscience do I watch football ever again? How do I even enjoy it anymore?

I've asked myself the same question--and I've asked my husband, who is a football coach.

Remember, people who play football (generally speaking) are not coerced.

They're also getting better equipment and better care thanks to the same awareness that has you cringing at tackles.

I think  it's naive to believe that anything with a fat revenue stream will ever make player safety a top priority, but it is true that the word is out on the traumatic brain injury problem and coaches, parents and doctors at all levels of contact sports are being asked to get informed, get more careful and change their thinking. 

So, while I think deciding not to watch football any more is a legitimate response, I also think it's possible to be a sensible fan. Don't be in denial about what you're watching, don't cheer the vicious hits, don't buy the jersey of the person who's routinely drawing fines, don't put your dollars behind any sport you wouldn't let your kid play, etc.

Just another suggestion for those stuck watching sporting events in which they have no interest: crafts. Take up some hobby like knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, or something that can keep you occupied while sitting with the sports fans (wearing your earplugs if necessary). It will keep you from going crazy, but it won't make you seem antisocial. Everybody wins!

You can make Christmas ornaments! (Seriously, it's a great stress reliever.)

Are you two together at the same computer or is that too risky for the Post (like the Pres and VP never in the same place)?

Yes, I'm at the Post and Carolyn is in that bunker they're building near the White House. I am more expendable.

Hi Ladies. My 70+ mother is an OSU nut. We expect her to die in the stadium during a Michigan game, refusing assistance from the paramedics. Needless to say, this has not been a good year for her. Other than holding out hope for the basketball season, what can we do (if anything) to keep her sane when she gets all riled up?

Will the Urban Meyer news help at all? I know Saturday was painful, but they weren't going to beat Michigan every year for eternity (I know, I know). And of course you can't say "Mom, they got themselves into this mess!" (I'm not heartless; I have a mom too and if I said that to her, she'd deck me.) I think you're going to have to go with "Urban Meyer will get everything straightened out, you'll see" and then maybe get a DVD of Woody highlights.

Carolyn, T-Ham Why are the words du jour this fall "epic" and "true freshman"? During every sports broadcast I watch, the commentators drag out the adjective "epic" innumerable times during the game (not to mention its use during commercials). And why do I need to be aware that the player who just made an "epic" tackle is a "true freshman"? Is there such a person as a "false freshman?" (Or would he be a sophmore?) Cuban Pete

You need to start playing Cliche Bowl, which my dad and I started years ago and which makes you look forward to bad  announcer-speak. As you watch a game, you respond to the situation with the appropriate cliche. The down side is that you need to have someone watchign with you who is also fed up, because it's all about the matchups. Unless you're okay with talking to yourself.

Please not Guinness.

Not Guinness. Used to be Blue Line pale ale, a hockey mom's friend, offered only at the Rock Bottom near Kettler Capitals Iceplex. But, they stopped making it. I took it personally and hung up my growler. My mass-market favorite is Sierra Nevada IPA. 

Is this sports or advice??


If you are not a sports fan are you better off becoming a fan of your husband's team, sticking with the team you grew up hearing your dad root for, or being contrary and picking a team from a location you favor (like, I pick the Chargers because I'd enjoy visiting San Diego)?

Husband's team, not even an issue, unless you don't like him. And if you make a conscious effort to learn the game just to see what he sees in it, well, then you can probably fly that goodwill to San Diego for a nice vacation.

But the other two choices are still better than huffing and complaining that sports are stupid. It's better to become a fan of his team's arch-rival than to huff. 

Also, in this day and age, the DVR is the ultimate comprimiser, so if you don't have one, get one. I'm a rabid football fan and there are certain games that are "epic" that I just don't want to miss, but if there is an event or something my wife really wants to do together, I have no problem recording it and blocking out all communication with the sports world until I can get home and watch it - it's not that hard to turn your cell phone off.

Bless you.

Trying dating a Lions fan....

And that is my other team. I'm under attack here! Suh is just misunderstood! (kidding)

I could totally see Tracee and Michelle fielding questions about how much a spouse is spending on sports memorabilia or the mixed emotions caused by being loyal to one's alma mater while owing thousands in student debt. BTW, I have enjoyed the past hour, good chat!!

I'd like to throw my checkbook at Michelle and just run. In an hour, she'd have my life sorted out. She's the bomb.

I'm a 28 year old woman and fairly serious distance runner. My boyfriend is starting to complain that my hobby is getting in the way of the relationship (ie: "I wish you would spend time making this relationship better the way you spend time getting better at running."). I find this super frustrating and think that he and I do spend a LOT of time with him, plus, we live together. Should I tone down the running hobby for now? I do sign up for a lot of races, but it keeps me sane...

You're a fairly serious distance runner, but then you call it a "running hobby"? If you're a runner, you're a runner. How many races are we talking about? Every weekend? I'm not sure if he's complaining that you run five miles after work every day or that you're going to races every Saturday or Sunday. If it's the former, I don't think your daily exercise is something you should feel you need to curtail. If you're spending every weekend racing, he may be telling you "I need you not to race every weekend because that's the only time we have to do something together." He may just be saying it in a bad way, or you're hearing it in a bad way.

This is a Rashoman question--you could get four people to describe it and all would have a different story. 

On one hand, you have the issue of accepting each other as you are. You are a serious runner, and that means you will be out running for long stretches almost daily, you will eat less indulgently, you won't stay up as late, etc. It's definitely a sport that drives a lot of your lifestyle choices, and anyone who chooses you as a partner needs, generally speaking, to love that or leave it.

On the other hand, you are in a serious relationship, and it's not unreasonable for your partner to expect the relationship (and the time you spend together) to deepen, in which case your devoting a lot of your leisure time to running would come as a legitimate disappointment.

All you can do, I think, is look at your time allocation as objectively as you can and  see if he has a point. If you don't think so--or if you agree but still don't want to reduce your training time--then you need to be clear that, to your mind, you're giving your full heart to both man and sport. Explain that you could certainly cut back the running to spend the time with him that he wants, but then you would feel you had to compromise to fiit his way of seeing things instead of doing what you feel is right. 

What you need most is a real effort to see each other's side of things. Seems as if you're both looking at it from the perspective of what you want to happen. 


What kind of punishment does he deserve for pounding a Packer's head into the ground and then kicking him in the arm? Is there any way the commish can get through to him that his behavior is out of bounds? I'm starting to think suspending him for the rest of the season might be required.

I think he gets 1 or 2 games. If I'm the Lions organization, I'm concerned about this guy. He clearly has some serious anger issues. Forget what he cost the team, and will continue to cost the team, in terms of penalties. What if he gets that angry in a road incident, or a domestic incident? At least that guy had a helmet and pads. If I were the Fords, I'd get him some serious counseling because his actions just scream that he needs some help.

Carolyn, aren't you a big hockey fan? Your thoughts on the firing of the coach?

Sad, but I think they were out of better alternatives. It wasn't working, and it was bad enough that packing off this player or that player wouldn't have been enough of a jolt. This patient needed to be revived with the paddles. Hope it works--when they're on,  this collection of talent is just a joy to watch. They brought me back to watching hockey after a long time away.

How do I cope with the inability of the Redskins to draft / trade for / develop a quarterback? I worry that we will end up signing someone like Matt Leinert or Carson Palmer. But knowing the Redskins we will probably end up with Chad "the Glass Man" Pennington, with JaMarcus Russel as a gift-with-purchase. How can I manage my fatalism when it comes to our QB? I have trust issues with Bruce Allan- can he save Shanahan from himself? I miss Doug Williams.

You have too many problems for just one chat. We're going to need to see you twice a week for the rest of your life.


I used to be a pretty serious sports fan, but over recent years I've become less and less interested in them. I follow some local sports teams closely, but I have little knowledge of anything going on in the rest of the leagues. Many of my friends, however, have maintained or even increased their enthusiasms. Last spring I was expected to have opinions on initial rounds of the NBA playoffs and could barely fake my way through the conversation, and hockey has often occasioned similar awkwardness. My temptation is just to say, "I don't follow this too closely anymore," but that always seems to me like I'm saying I found something better to do. (I don't think my current interests are better; I'm just more interested in them now.) What should I do - keep faking, own up, artfully disguise my ignorance with questions, something else?

Be a good listener, and when you're well and truly bored, change the subject. Or just say, "I don't follow sports as much as I used to. So what's going on that's interesting?" There is a chance you're friends will see this as a value judgment, no matter how you couch it, but that can't be helped. There is nothing wrong with you. If they ask you what you're doing instead, tell them, and you might be surprised to learn they're interested. Or they aren't. Either way, at least you aren't pretending to be interested in the Heat.

First off, love this idea and this chat! Secondly, is there any worse marketing campaign that the Caps "Club Scarlett?" My sister and my good friend (we call her my hockey wife) are HUGE hockey fans. Why have a club aimed at "girls" that is all fluff and pink? They love HOCKEY. It infuriates them and I think rightfully so. Finally, Carolyn gave an answer a while back that was rendered in super tiny type then disappeared from the chat. Did she get kidnapped by munchkins?

I think I'm going to start doing that with answers I'm not 100 percent comfortable posting. I'll call it my little voice.

I just ignore the girl-club thing. I find it easier than getting outraged.

With the recent revelations at Penn State and Syracuse, the question has to be asked: how prevalent is this in college sports? Coaching is a way for pedophiles to get access to young boys... the silence surrounding both incidents is what is most disturbing to me. How will this change college athletics?

I don't know how prevalent it is but we're going to find out in the coming months. If you think about it, it's the perfect breeding ground. The sports programs are irresistable bait for these predators to use on young boys. I shudder to think of what we DON'T know and probably will never know. Any athletic department that isn't putting checks and balances into place right now is being foolish. I'm talking changing the locks on all facilities, key cards to gain access, camera surveillance, and a system of reporting that does not involve your immediate superior. And about a hundred things I'm not thinking of. They need to make it impossible for coaches to use campuses as lures. Of course, this won't stop them, and that's the really awful part. These kids never get over this abuse. That's what they all have in common. They never get over it.

Thanks for that answer, Carolyn! I (female) am a diehard, never-miss-a-game fan of my alma mater, and my boyfriend has only a mild interest in sports and no real understanding/appreciation of hardcore college fandom. But I was open about this one obsession from the outset, and I am willing to compromise by DVR-ing my game to do something else on Satruday afternoons.

All hail the DVR. Lifesaver for mixed-fan couples, parents of young kids, or anyone else who balks at letting sports anchor the schedule.

Ms. Hax: There's this great woman who's intelligent, kind, thoughtful and great to chat with (on-line anyway), but she's a Jayhawk and I'm a Husker. What can come of this relationship? AHG

Remember the mantra: It's just a shirt. You're all just yelling for a different shirt.

Carolyn: I'm noticing that you're quite a bit faster at responding in this chat than you are in your usual Friday space. Is it because you're not giving your answers as much thought, or just because the competitive streak inherent in sports talk is pushing you to show that you can be just as quick as Tracee in producing answers?

Hah. It's because the risk I'll send someone to an attorney (or a hospital) with a bad answer is much lower. I think I'll drop in on a knitting chat next. 

Glad to see Carolyn doing her part on the beverage side of the chat. Let's celebrate this great era of beer in which we live. Sierra Nevada IPA can be called mass-market, and no one blinks an eye. Not that long ago it was a hard-to-find treat, now it has many worthy competitors.

I weep with joy to be alive in the era of microbrews. It almost makes up for its coinciding with the era of reality TV. Cushions the blow if nothing else.

So my husband is such a rapid fan of the local football team that he scares dogs with his screaming and has wrecked at least three remotes throwing them against the wall when the team fails. I can't even be in the same house with him during game time. Suggestions?

That this kind of anger about a game is too much anger. You have to leave the house as long as this is going on, that's a given, but it's not a long-term solution. Is this the only time he exhibits this kind of rage? If this is 16 Sundays a year, I don't know how you get him into counseling, because he won't see the problem, but breaking remotes is an over-the-top reaction to a football game.

I don't know how to tell my parents I'm dating an older divorced father. I'm in my early twenties, he in his early forties, and we've fallen in love and want to become more serious as a couple. My parents have always told me I am mature for my age, and my boyfriend is an understanding patient man, so we both think we're a great match. But I don't know if any mom or dad watches their daughter grow up and hopes she'll fall for a man closer in age to them than to her. What say you?

This is a Haxian question, but I'm going to take a swing and say that if you believe you're old enough to date a man 20 years older than you, then you're old enough to tell your parents. Can't have one without the other. Not telling them belies their believe that you are mature for your age.


I say Tracee saved me some typing. Out with it to Ma and Pa or admit you're in over your head.

Ladies, I love sports (granted, they're all losing teams - Redskins, Mets, Terps, etc). I also love playing sports (touch football, softball, etc). Everyone tells me that guys love that. The guys I know put me in the "friend zone" and look right past me to some pretty little things who can only pretend to care about these important issues. What am I doing wrong?

Keep looking. There are guys out there for whom this isn't the biggest turnoff in the world, but for some guys, yes, this is an issue, and it's annoying, because they're always the ones who get together with their buds and complain that their "girls" don't "understand" them. Well, you should have married someone who liked sports, dude! But not all men are like this. Really.

Can one ever tactfully ask an ex-boyfriend about their divorce? I am dating a divorced man, have been for seven months, and we're getting serious. But the topic never comes up organically, and I'm curious enough about the end of his marriage three years ago to hope it does. I've never dated a divorced man before, and neither have my close friends, so I don't know if there's a script out there to initiate that conversation or if it's the ultimate taboo to ask about a significant other's divorce!

Your script: "I've been waiting for it to come up organically and it hasn't, so I'm going to ask: Are you willing to talk about what happened in your marriage?"

Seven months is a lot of not-asking; I hope you're not this timid otherwise, because that will get you in more trouble than what you don't know about your BF's ex-marriage.

It's also a way for pedophiles to get access to young GIRLS, not just boys.

Yes, true.

I'm not even a sports fan, but these questions and answers are cracking me up. For Homey Tree: Put non-ornament items on it. For our first tree, I had some 'regular' ornaments, but we also tied on Star Wars figures (they ended up looking very Mad Max) and Babylon 5/Star Trek ships. Also consult Martha for easy crafty ornament ideas. Just no glitter. I hate glitter. I think it should be outlawed.

Great ideas! Anything you might have collected would be great on a tree. Teacups. I have little china animals from when I was a kid.

And no glitter is great, and may I add, please, send no Christmas cards with glitter. It just gets all over everything and annoys me.

And while we're on Christmas cards, please don't just sign your name. Add a line or two to say how you're doing, or even a hokey Xeroxed letter. I don't mind those. Better than "Dave." I know your name, fool. I want to know how you ARE.

I'm a Husker. My husband of 22 years is a Sooner. We met over 30 years ago when the conference was still the Big 8 and the Friday after Thanksgiving was reserved for the Big Game. The rivalry lessened when the Big 8 became the Big 12 and is essentially moot now that Nebraska has joined the Big Ten. But we're still together and still giving each other grief, when appropriate. It helps to keep in mind that it's only a game.

From your lips to God's ears ... and everyone else's, too. They're games and they're supposed to be fun. FUN.

I live in State College, PA so obviously the only thing we hear about is the recent trouble. My husband and I discuss this, and our 6yo boy is present a number of times when we do (e.g., as DH reads paper on Sunday), although we don't talk specific actions. But I do wonder how much we should/not be subjecting my son to this. He hasn't asked anything about it (thank goodness). Any thoughts?

I don't think he needs to hear any of it, besides a generic "A coach hurt some kids" if he asks directly what you're talking about-- but you do need to teach him, if you haven't already, the difference between a "good touch" and a "bad touch." Also (if you haven't already), now's the time to make sure you are parents with whom your child can be completely honest--and that means you show him day in, day out that you're the safest place for him to tell the truth. No shaming or yelling or ridicule (sounds obvious but it's so important not to laugh or dismiss it when kids admit their kid stuff to you, no matter how silly it sounds to you). Start being this safe place now, so that you give yourselves your best shot of being the person your boy tells if someone creepy approaches him.

Don't just take what I say and run with it, though--get some guidance (ask at his school) on the language and protocol of preparing kids to protect themselves from predators. It starts early, with careful limitations on the info you give and careful reinforcement of the lesson of trusting their "no" voice.

One of my in-laws is a huge, huge fan of a particular SEC football team. I don't follow them at all (I know the name of the coach, and the fact that there is some sort of internet honey badger thing going on... but that is it). He seems to feel the need to educate me on every aspect of the team. This might not be so much of a problem if I could mostly nod along and smile, but there are two issues: 1) he tends to tell me the same thing over and over again, and 2) he expects a lengthy response after each thing he tells me, and if I don't, he'll ask me "pop quizzes" on what he's just told me. Is there a polite way to say that I really just don't care about his beloved team?

Oh dear. Is this during a game, or just any old time? There is no polite way to say what you need to say, but give it a try. Maybe, "I'm sorry, I'm just not interested in (SEC team). Say, what do you think about (insert topic here, avoiding religion and politics)?" If he starts up again, you have to go to Plan B. 

Is there some interest you have that would bore him to tears? Because I would flip him on it. I'm very lucky to have genealogy in my life. Whenever you can break into the conversation, just start in. Be the bore you never ever thought you'd be. Then pop quiz him. If that doesn't work, you're just going to have to literally get up and leave the room when he opens his mouth. No other options.

It's HaxiHamiltime! My wife encourages me to go out to watch sports events, but won't let me reciprocate. She's a knitter, not a fan, so I tell her to go out and buy yarn and have tea or something, but she always rebuffs me. She can't be trying to get rid of me; if she wanted peace and quiet she'd tell me to take the kids. What is the hidden meaning of this? And how can I pay her back in some way?

Let's see, your wife is being incredibly kind to you. That IS odd. Hmmmmm. Does she like theater or the symphony or something you could get her tickets to, so that she'd HAVE to go and leave the kids with you, thus making you feel better and giving her a well-earned break? Otherwise, you'll just have to face it, you have a great wife.

Why aren't men more gaga over female sports fans??? While it seems attractive to them at first, it seems like a lot of guys just want girly-girls who will leave them alone with their buddies. I'm all girl but I also really like sports. Any thoughts?

The guys who want the girly-girls are guys you don't want. It really is that simple. Sure, a lot of guys want to hang with guy buddies, and likewise many women prefer the company of their girl buddies. To each his or her own. There are also planty of people who aren't interested in the buddy system. No matter what a person's preference, it takes time to find someone you're attracted to whose preference aligns with yours.

OP about the ornaments here. Thank you so much for all the helpful responses; it's been a tough year for my family and the tree flood was another bad day. I'm going to look into a bunch of them, I know my family will appreciate it! I'm tearing up a little bit! =)

Thanks to the posters for their suggestions. Ornaments are a passion of mine, if you couldn't tell. :)

With all the accusations of child sexual molestation against prominent coaches in the news lately, what advice would each of you give from your respective professional positions to young people who have been molested, to their parents and to authorities? Also, recalling the false charges brought against a pre-school in Southern California some years ago that resulted in a horrible witch-hunt against innocent teachers, what can parents, friends and authorities do to make sure that accusations are being brought truthfully and not out of bad faith, such as vengeance or misguided attention-seeking? (Wow, it makes me long for the simpler days of mere bacon-pants, Baby Jays and glass bowls).

Well, I would advise anyone who'd been molested to talk to a professional about it (as an adult) and if he/she is a child, talk to the parents or if, God forbid, it's a parent, to a teacher. For parents, believe your kids when they tell you they've been harmed. Get them help. React calmly and get professional advice. I heard from victims whose parents didn't believe them and those have got to be the most gut-wrenching emails I've ever read.

I would also say that parents need to remember that the danger to their children isn't necessarily a stranger. It's often a friend, or a relative, or someone they know through church, or school, or sports, or ... the list could go on and on. I'm not sure how you explain that to children but there are professionals out there whose job it is to know.

Hi Tracee and Carolyn I was in a 4 year relationship only to get dumped this morning. I worked hard to develop a good rapport with my significant others, but at some point in the relationship they stopped going to bat for me and stopped working to bring our relationship to a deeper level. I have always been a fighter, and I know eventually I will recover, but right now, what can I do to ease the pain. Signed, Bruce in DC

Dear Bruce in DC: A guy like you, with clean carpets, attractive track suits, and an ability to play the kazoo, will be snapped up in no time. Don't dwell on what went wrong; sit by the phone. You'll get a call in no time and be off on an exciting new relationshp!

How in the world did you two ladies know that Caps fan would need you now more than ever?

Our powers are mighty!

While I'm a lifetime OSU fan, I was really ok that Michigan won (and on my birthday!) since OSU did better than I had expected from them this year. Does that mean that I have betrayed the scarlet and gray? I presently work near Detroit. Do I need to head back to OH to prevent permanent damage?

No, it means you are approaching sports from a logical and sensible manner. You're fine. I promise you, you're fine.

Carolyn/Tracee, I am a native of CT who grew up on Giants football on Sundays, Yankees in the summer and, of course, tons of UConn basketball. My boyfriend, a Boston native, roots for the Sox and the Pats (but not BC, thank God, or it would be all over). So my question is, can such opposing loyalties coexist? And what if we have kids? Will we scar them for life?

I'll do you one better: I grew up in CT, rooting for the Giants and the Pats. I scarred myself for life a few Super Bowls ago. 

Think of what you can teach your kids about tolerance by supporting each other's fan afflictions (no, not a typo for affiliations). And, just to preserve that harmony, move to a neutral third location; your kids will root for their local teams against both sets of yours.

I read an article this morning about a middle school basketball team that might be disassembled after they had a crushing 100 to 2 win over another team. Poor sportsmanship, the principle said. I agree that such a score disparity would be awkward and painful -- but I'm wondering if you have thoughts on the correct way to deal with such a game in the moment. Do you tell the players of the leading team to stop trying? Does the winning coach pull the losing coach aside and say, "Let's just call it quits now" -- which seems like it might also embarrass the losing team? ("You're so bad, we're not even going to finish the game.") What should the protocol be in situations like this?

Not knowing the details of the game, it's hard to answer specifically, but I have seen different approaches to the lopsided win. Usually they're some version of sitting the starters and putting in all the bench, and stalling without scoring. That's hard in football (you don't throw, but you have to run, and really good teams run right through bad ones), but in sports with passing, like hockey/soccer/basketball, you just pass without shooting and eat as much clock as you can. Some teams just get thumped sometimes, and letting them play it out is often the less humiliating option of two humiliating options.

Somethign youcan do in youth sports but not in, say, high school league games, is break the game into an informal one. Just saw that in hockey, when the refs stopped the game, the dominant team donated a couple of players to the other team and they had a coach-led scrimmage. Middle school is on the line between the two, dunno if that's possible. 

As for the specifics we have on this game, it sounds as if the coach needs to go, unless the kids openly defied instructions to stop shooting. In the latter case, then, yes, penalize the team. Assuming there isn't more to the story.


I'd need to read more about this game. This isn't the first time something like this has happened. I seem to recall recently in such a blowout the losing team was angry when the winning team let up on them. The winning team in this instance pulled its starters early -- accounts differ on the time -- but they almost couldn't stop scoring. They may have been 98 points better than the other team. Maybe the coaches should have spoken but if there is no provision in the rules for that, then one team has to forfeit. From the little I was able to read, these teams shouldn't have been playing each other -- and they may play again. Pretty sad.

I think pairing the two of you up together is wonderful. OK, ladies, please explain Tim Tebow's success to us. Thank you!


I'm going with novelty; running QB's tear up the joint when they first arrive in the NFL, then the defenses catch up. Can't say with any confidence that'll happen with Tebow, since I haven't watched enough and I'm no expert, but over the years it seems there's always some new running QB, and the ones who succeed are the ones who manage a transition to more traditional pocket QBs. 

Agreed; the league will probably catch up to him, but I love it when someone different comes along and makes everyone wrong. Plus his personality annoys so many people, which kind of makes it even more fun.

Well, we've run long, which is a time-honored tradition on both chats, so thanks for joining us for the first annual Hax/Hamilton chat. And thanks to Carolyn for being receptive to the idea! I hope you all enjoyed it!

The parents might also want to ask their son what he's heard about it. I'd imagine the scandal is rocking the community. It's possible that a friend or classmate who knows more about the situation than he does has told him things you haven't, or that the teacher has addressed the situation on some level. Maybe that's why he isn't asking questions. It's probably a good idea to make sure he's not misinformed or frightened. I'd imagine that asking him what he knows rather than just lecturing might go far to create that safe and honest relationship Carolyn suggested.

yes, definitely, thanks.

That's it for me. Thanks Tracee for the invitation, and Levi for producing, and all you guys for coming to sports/advice Frankenchat.

In This Chat
Carolyn Hax
Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997 as a weekly feature for The Washington Post, accompanied by the work of "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis. The column has since gone daily and into syndication, where it appears in over 200 newspapers. Carolyn joined The Post in 1992 as a copy editor in Style, and became a news editor before turning to writing full-time. She is the author of "Tell Me About It" (Miramax, 2001), and the host of a live online discussion on Fridays at noon on She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and their three boys.

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Tracee Hamilton
Tracee Hamilton has worked at the Post since 1993, toiling in office obscurity as an editor before someone said, "Hey, you've got a lot of opinions and can write a little. Why don't you become a columnist?"

Her interests range from genealogy to Nordic combined to Kansas basketball. If ever there were a Jayhawk who once flew off a ski jump, she'd know where he was buried.

Her list of pet peeves is considerably longer, but includes Missouri basketball and poor Metro etiquette. She welcomes dissenting opinions -- in the way Great Whites welcome open-water swimmers.

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