On a thread about Making Male Friends while traveling it was mentioned that a great way to make friends internationally is to bond over football (soccer).

46: Outside the US, most men like football (soccer), so this is the ideal vehicle to make male friends. I must have made 500 short term friends through football (soccer). Generally wherever I am I make it a point to understand the national team and main club team rivalries to some extent. So now I have a common point of conversation with like 80% of dudes in that country. Plus you can ask people about the games on TV in bars, etc. They CARE about it.

xsplat:I’m not able to make friends over football discussions, as I consider such discussions vapid, and if I was looking for vapid I’d look towards someone with tits. I understand that people get passionate about sports, but I can’t bring myself to care. I’ve tried. Can’t do it. I can’t care, and I can’t empathize with the caring that others feel. I can’t bond over inanity.

Vorkuta: Every friendship I’ve formed with dudes pretty much has started off with a conversation about footie. It’s the ultimate male friendship opener and to not use it limits you in certain places. You don’t have to like football to talk about it,you are merely using the topic to start a conversation with a dude so that once you have bonded a little over that you can switch the topic to him introducing you to some of his female friends. Bonding is often about finding similarities between us,and what similarities do we have with a coal miner from Magnitogorsk who has never left his republic? Women and football. Open with the football and then get onto the women.

xsplat: As both you and Berliner insightfully point out, making friends is largely about bonding over commonalities.

I don’t believe you can really fake those commonalities. I truly and deeply don’t give a shit about football, could never convincingly pretend to, and would never muster the motivation to try. Not going to happen.

And if I did feign interest I would not in my heart feel bonded. Or interested. I’d feel fake, hollow, depersonalized and disconnected.

I might bond with a guy over not giving a shit about football though. Then we’d have some genuine simpatico to build on.

Here’s a quote from an old boingboing.net article “Oh brother. I don’t even know what the FIFA World Cup is. I’m guessing it’s soccer, which I hate just as much as any other pro sport. Every editor at Boing Boing detests professional sports, and we would sooner stream a video of a crumpled up paper napkin in the corner of a room than show some jackasses running after a ball. The only time we would ever post anything about pro-sports would be to make fun of them.”

46: lol I’m a hard core sports guy but realize it can be silly if I’m not playing. If you think football is vapid (completely understandable) you can also look at the game through the prism of social class, history, attitudes, conflict, and geography. In any given country the game and prominent teams always symbolize some sort of geographic or class warfare. So you can use the game not to discuss sport, but rather the more important, substantive issues in a given country. For example River Plate v. Boca in BA??? Good lord.

I believe there must be some genetic component that influences a personality to liking team sports or not.

I was aware at a very young age that I could not understand why anyone would root for one team or another. It seemed so arbitrary to me. Why care which side won? The technical aspects of a game were mildly interesting, and it’s fun to get out on the field and actually play it, but if your Dad isn’t on the field, why would anyone associate with one side or the other? People would instruct me to pick a side and root for your team, and I pretended to, but that never made me care which side won. And without that there is no pleasure in the exercise, and it all seems pointless, banal, and boring. And even a bit alienating as I can’t understand the emotions of those around me. It makes me no closer to people, that’s for sure.

Obviously there would be a tribal genetic advantage if warriors did care and did root for their home teams to win. So there should be genetic selection for the trait of being very interested in team sports. However I know I’m not a rare freak who since inception is unable to care – I know that a sizable percentage of the population is classically similar. I’m pretty sure that among science fiction fans the number of football fans is low.

I’d also bet sports fans would be more likely to team up into social circles more easily. They’d be more group oriented. While the science fiction boys would be more iconoclastic and even more likely to be loners. Less influenced by peer pressure and less interested in the pleasures of belonging.

Has anyone yet studied the relationship between interest in spectator sports and political bias? I’d wager sports fans are more conservative in that they are more tribal, while non sports fans will be more progressive. When we look out onto the field we don’t even see teams – we just see a bunch of guys.