Nowadays, it’s commonplace to see someone called a “casual” as a way of saying they have little knowledge of a respective sport. As someone who has studied hours of basketball film, played across the country, and hopefully within a few months, in a different country, I’ve always been shocked by the frequent use of the word casual. If we’re being honest, when it come to sports, we’re all casuals. If I may have this dance, I promise this isn’t a critique of your knowledge or capabilities. Now let’s dance!
Let’s first define what a casual is. My definition of a casual is someone who is aware of the workings of a sport but lacks the deeper understanding of that same sport. In simpler terms, someone who knows the basics but doesn’t understand the tactical side of the game. Before we dive into why both you and me are casuals, let’s use the aforementioned definition to expose these common myths shared among people who claim to not be casuals. First, having historical knowledge does not mean you understand the sport. I respect all sports historians, but in basketball terms, if I ask you how to beat a 2–3 zone defense and you say the Golden State Warriors won the 1975 NBA Finals, we’d have a problem. Second, even if you played the sport you’re speaking on, you’re likely still a casual. Think about it like chefs. A lot of us cook from time to time. How many of us know how to make an aioli or prepare a medium-rare steak? Your mother’s cooking may taste great but there’s a good chance she doesn’t own a Michelin star restaurant. Next in line are the stat lovers. With the addition of advanced analytics people love to just point out numbers and say this player is better than that player. As of now, the stats just aren’t advanced enough to make such judgements. There’s a reason why teams spend millions of dollars on scouts whose job it is to watch players both in-person and in the film room. Last but not least, we have the bully. God forbid someone doesn’t know something that they do because, should that be the case, the bully will pounce on them with ruthless aggression(aggression of course meaning rude comments on social media). The famous line goes something like this, “How could you not know that you casual!” Perhaps you are familiar with some of the variations. For example, “Tell me you’re a casual without telling me you’re a casual” or “You just showed you’re a casual”. The bully may now more than some people, but being smarter than a fifth grader does not make you a genius. Furthermore, I think it’s safe to say that clowning a fifth grader over their intelligence is not the way to go.
Whether you fall into one of the above categories or not, I’ll let the triple-crown winner Cooper Kupp spin you for a moment. When asked about what he saw prior to another touchdown reception, Kupp answered with the following gem.
“Yeah, they had a little, three-deep fire zone. Brought the nickel off the edge, safety dropped down. They didn’t look like they were doing a replacement fire zone, so I knew with the back away, we were going to get three pushing through that had an opportunity to kind of run there if I could beat my guy, just had to beat the safety to the end zone.”
I’ve read this quote 20 times and I still don’t know what a replacement fire zone is. At the highest level, each sport has a chess match going on every second. Whether it’s our pride getting in the way or ignorance showing it’s face, many of lack the ability to say we don’t understand the sports we love. In fact, it should be obvious that we’re all casual fans. Think about it this way, if every fan could easily understand your teams game plan, they’d surely lose every game because the other team would have them figured out.
I want to remind you that there’s nothing wrong with being a casual fan. I myself watch football, soccer(sorry everyone outside of the U.S.), MMA, and, of course, basketball. It would be nearly impossible for me to watch the hours of film or spend hours in the gym learning the skills and tactics behind each sport. I am a casual sports fan, you’re. a casual sports fan, and that’s perfectly fine.
© 2022 Wolfe Rygaard