Socializing & Sports -- an oxymoron?

  • atxclimber

    Posts: 480

    Dec 09, 2007 6:33 AM GMT
    I had a realization just now as I was lying out in my backyard under the climbing wall.

    I've always struggled to balance my social time with friends with my time spent on my hobbies and activities. And I have always made an effort to merge the two, to be friends with people who do the same things I do, but for whatever reason, I realized tonight, almost everything I like doing as an actual pursuit, like sports, as opposed to leisure, I do by myself.

    It kind of sucks, and I'm wondering if others have anything similar. I have casual acquaintances with which I do various sports -- guys I know at the rock climbing gym, guys in the local cycling club I know and see on the road sometimes -- but those acquaintanceships are very casual and more a "wave when I see you" kind of thing, and don't tend to develop into real friendships. I thought about it and I think there are a few reasons.

    1.) We have nothing else in common. This is kind of an umbrella one. A lot of the time it's just that we're very different ages, and the guy I have fun chatting with at the rock gym still lives with his parents, or is in college, or whatever, and we run out of things to even say to one another when talk diverges from climbing. Or else he's a really hardcore climber and doesn't do much else with his free time, so there's not a lot I *could* do otherwise. Or whatever.

    2.) There's not a big community. This is especially true of yoga. The yoga classes I take usually have, like, 5 people in them. To be fair, in San Francisco similar yoga classes were huge, 40+ at least. (Still, see #1 -- most of the people in them were older women.)

    3.) Very different skill levels. This is specific to spending more time doing the sport together. Most of the climbers in Austin that are regular enough for me to know them are also above my skill level by several grades, such that climbing outside with them would not be practical. Or, cyclists, there's a kind of divide where they are either competitive (20+ mph steady) or leisure (13- mph steadily) and I'm kind of in between.

    Thinking more about #3, I do a little of many activities, so I am not a master of any one, which I think is to blame there.

    At any rate, it's frustrating.

    On the flip side, my good friends tend not to be interested in what I am. I got one of them to get a road bike, and we did that a bit, but his commitment level there doesn't really match mine. Same with climbing: I had a few friends who I climbed with pretty regularly, but they've since dropped off. When I moved back to Austin I built a large rock climbing wall in my backyard in the hopes that it would be a social thing, but they came once and when I asked, were uninterested in getting back into it.

    When I lived in San Francisco, I joined the (GLBT) Different Spokes cycling club, and while I made some friends there, they were all universally much older than me, so again it remained friends-via-cycling. And again, goals were very different (some trained for the ALC, some trained for double centuries, a century was as hardcore as I ever got.)

    And I've never dated anyone who shared my athletic interests, which is annoying.

    It's very frustrating. I feel like in my spare time, I have two very clear and distinct choices: social/leisure/hanging-out-with-friends stuff, which involves playing videogames, drinking and playing cards, going to movies, stuff like that. I enjoy doing that stuff, but I really like to push myself and grow as a human, and unless I count my mastery of euchre and encyclopedic knowledge of videogames as personal growth, it doesn't really get me very far.

    The other choice is to engage in one of my hobbies, but when I do that, I'm basically by myself, and it gets pretty lonely climbing in my backyard at night by myself. Or cycling and occasionally passing someone I know. Or, uh, practicing yoga or meditating in my house by myself. Or in a class of four other people once a week.

    Is anyone else familiar with this kind of thing? I guess I'm wondering if the problem is me -- if I need to behave differently, somehow, or change my expectations, if I'm looking for the impossible and need to just settle for what's in front of me -- or if it's just a tough dichotomy. And in any case, what have others in similar situations done?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 09, 2007 12:58 PM GMT
    I don't think it's an oxymoron. Some of my best friends I met through training for races. If you find someone that runs at your pace, you can talk together while you train. For other sports that are a little more solitary like swimming or cycling where it's not as easy to talk, go grab a bite together afterward.

    My other recommendation is to not necessarily limit yourself to gay affinity sporting groups. Try a regular cycling club in your area. You might make some great friends there who just happen to be straight.
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    Dec 09, 2007 6:38 PM GMT
    or someone in the closet. kind of how two friends of mine met at some dirt bike event and now they are dating hah... go figure. two of the "straightest" or thought they were guy I know and bam! Rock climbing sounds fun. Id actually like to try that sometime. And thats crazy about Austin. Like my yogi here at the gym I go to in McAllen becamse certified over there. I think you might want to checn out a regular yoga class. Yoga is HUGE in austin from what I here. I normally only get like 5 in my classes but eh.. I like it like that.
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    Dec 09, 2007 7:54 PM GMT
    I see a lot of people cycling together and yakking away, but they aren't really riding hard. When I've taken a "date" on a ride, an hour ride ends up taking two or three hours, and isn't much fun as a ride.

    There is a group of "elite" riders (well, far stronger than me, anyway) who I see regularly. They seem to spend about half of their ride just screwing around and socializing (e.g. I pass them)then they get serious and break up when they reach a challenging part of the ride (e.g. they scream past me one-by-one during a stiff climb.) Then I think they regroup and socialize some more.

    I used to belong to a SCUBA club that was largely about socializing. Some people were more in to the socializing and others got bored and dropped out if there wasn't a dive trip going on pretty frequently. The trips themselves were actually pretty fun, usually groups of 4 to 6 people headed to the coast for a weekend. The actual dives (depending on the boat or lack thereof) were only a couple of hours a day and the rest was more social. Yes, sometimes taking a beginner or a weak swimmer along was kind of like being a den-mother, but if we could muster up a group, then there was enough trading off that everyone could have fun.

    Some of those dive trips could have led to better things. Several times hot guys made blatant passes at me during one of those weekends. However, at the time I was firmly closeted and incredibly oblivious. Usually, I didn't realize that a pass had occurred until days later.
  • masculineone

    Posts: 43

    Dec 10, 2007 10:41 PM GMT
    I am in a situation which is simular but probably more drastic. I live in greensboro, NC gay population 5-10 people. I have all of my professional friends are realatively kind and goal oriented, but if they new I was gay I am sure that would all change. Gay friends were nice but either 20 or more years older. They are some my age but none of them have the stamina or physical capability to stay with me when I play. I can't stand to sit around all day in the house. I know that in some of the big areas like Atlanta, DC, Dallas, Austin, LA, etc I would probably be able to find someone who fits me more. Problem Number 2 I am really masculine and only into masculine. I don't have any attraction to feminine men. I get offers from them up to 25 years younger on a regular basis. I also am very wiry looking to grow spiritually and physically. I can always find one of them. a 50-75 year old man who is driven and successful but can't physically hang or the youngins who can physically hang, have no goals do drugs and drink heavily. Problem number 3 I am a teacher and love my school and my people treat me better than any other job in my whole life. So, you are not the only one.
    Take care and good luck.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 19, 2007 2:15 AM GMT
    I think sports and socializing do go well, but yoga is more of a solo activity in a group setting. What I'm trying to say is it depends on the sport. I do yoga and I don't socailise with anyone from yoga. Its a hi/bye type of thing.

    I play soccer on str8 leagues and most of my str8 friends are also soccer players.

    It is only in the last few years that I have started to play on gay sports teams. I find the gay teams are taking the place of the bars regarding socialising in towns too small to have a gay ghetto.

    I live in Madison , WI which is a lot smaller than Greensboro, NC. We only have two bars. Just because you live in a small city doesn't mean you can't find guys of similiar interests and age for friendship and more.


    I'm on a Gay Rugby team (Madison Minotaurs) and its like every Rugby team very social. In addition the close connections between the str8 team and ours breaks down barriers. The str8 team in town has also helped us break down barriers when we play teams through the conservative portions of the state.

    The Gay Hockey league I belong too , has made itself one of the social engines of the community. There are 6 teams in the league with over 100 players ensuring a wide mix of people and interests. In the coming weeks we have a big new years party , taking over one of the main hotels, ski trips, pond hockey games etc.

    Finally, Gay Bowling is an excuse to socialise. Bowling is more hanging out than a sporting activity.

    In addition Gay tournaments of all sports are a great way to met new friends from all over the world.
  • roadbike

    Posts: 84

    Jan 09, 2008 2:25 PM GMT
    atxclimber said3.) Very different skill levels. Or, cyclists, there's a kind of divide where they are either competitive (20+ mph steady) or leisure (13- mph steadily) and I'm kind of in between.
    On the flip side, my good friends tend not to be interested in what I am. I got one of them to get a road bike, and we did that a bit, but his commitment level there doesn't really match mine. When I lived in San Francisco, I joined the (GLBT) Different Spokes cycling club, and while I made some friends there, they were all universally much older than me, so again it remained friends-via-cycling. I have two very clear and distinct choices: social/leisure/hanging-out-with-friends stuff. The other choice is to engage in one of my hobbies, but when I do that, I'm basically by myself. Or cycling and occasionally passing someone I know.

    Is anyone else familiar with this kind of thing?


    Hey ATXClimber:

    I feel you! I'm one of the older folks that you refer to above (56). I joined a gay cycling club here in SD. Most of the guys are late 30s - 40s. The intermediate rides that they do are fine on the flat parts, but I can't keep up on the steep hills. It seems like there is too much of a gap between the beginner rides and the intermediate rides, with me being somewhere in between. That makes me more inclined to just ride by myself. I have 2 straight friends that bought high end Trek Madone bikes this past year. One lives 65 miles away; the other lives in Asia. My friend in Asia brings his bike when he comes to SD to visit every year. My friend in OC and I ride together about once per month. They are both younger and more fit than me. We cruise about 16 - 18 mph, but when there are steep hills, they leave me in the dust. Still, they will wait for me at the top of the hills and tell me not to worry about it. There is a married guy that I know through work that rides with me now and then. We did the Rosarito to Ensenada 50 mile ride in September. This was the flip side for me where I had to slow down to ride together when I wanted to go faster.

    I use my bike to commute to work 7.5 miles each way and really get into the job of cycling. When I ride alone, I call the shots. I've come to accept that if I'm going to ride with someone, it will take compromise on both our parts if we want to make it a social thing.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 09, 2008 2:37 PM GMT
    ...addressing this with the assumption that you mean gay friends. Maybe a leap, but anyway...

    I cannot find any gay ATX mountain bikers or snowboarders. Too bad...the mtn. biking here is great. I want to plan a skiing/boarding trip to New Mexico this spring (try to do one every year), but unless I have a BF to join me, it's like pulling teeth to convince any of my friends to come along. One year it worked and two enthusiastic new snowboarders were born, but I think that was rare.

    Since my predominantly gay rugby team folded, everyone went their own way. The softball league is fun, and I've got a few friends from that. The pickup basketball games at Pease Park used to be good on Saturdays, and I met a couple friends from that, but it was long ago and they moved away.

    Have you heard of the Austin Sports and Social Club? I heard it is big and they do lots of things. You'd have to have some sense of gaydar though.

    Other than that, I think the easiest way is gym buddies and running partners. Zzzzz.
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    Jan 09, 2008 5:55 PM GMT
    It helps if you live in a big city with a lot of other gay men and gay sports organizations. I met my partner at gay volleyball, and we also played on the same gay softball team.

    The advantage of gay sports organizations is that the sexual tension is a bit less, you get to know other parts of the person's personality as opposed to a bar where many men play head games!

    The disadvantage for younger guys, is that most gay men join these organizations when they are in their late 20's or 30's after they get sick of the bar scene. Things are slowly changing in Toronto (there was a softball team mainly made up of young guys last year) but volleyball still seems to skew to people in the 28-45 age group.
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Jan 10, 2008 1:09 AM GMT
    I've become good friends with some people in my volleyball league. What's nice about volleyball is that it really fosters teamwork, which I think is helpful for building friendships.