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It’s August, and you know what that means… Football season is right around the corner. But wait. Let me cool my heels for just a second. So, everyone knows I’m a huge sports fanatic. Football, hockey, diving, baseball, cheerleading, volleyball, you name it. (Okay, strike that. Don’t name it. I made that challenge to my bestie who said boules. I didn’t even know what the heck that was until I searched it on Google, and now, I’m depressed that I do.)
Saturdays in fall, everyone knows where to find me—at an SEC tailgate, of course. (Specifically, supporting my Bayou Bengals. Love purple, live gold.) And after a year of social distancing, lockdown, and all other kind of medieval atrocities that drug themselves up from the decrepit crypts of the past to revisit and wreak havoc, I can’t wait to get back into the stands (safely, of course). However, my love of sports doesn’t stop at stadium gates or a remote control. It has spilled over into my writing. I’m an author of sports romance. What beauty to be able to blend two loves into one. Perfection!
Here’s the real secret about sports romances. The romance is at the core. So, even if a reader dislikes sports and/or athletics, he/she can still enjoy the romantic story. What makes sports romances stand out from all other romantic subgenres is that sports, naturally, play a large role in the story. Well, duh! Hence the name “sports romance.” But hang on a minute. Not so fast. This is where it may become confusing for some. In a sports romance, sports may play a substantial role, an essential role, or both. What it can’t be is a backdrop. To demonstrate my point, I like to refer to the 1950s sitcom, Leave It to Beaver.
In the classic sitcom, typical of its time, Ward Clever was the dutiful patriarch of the family. Husband to June and father to Wally and Theodore, Ward faithfully traipsed off each morning in his crisp white shirt, sensible shirt, and polished shoes with a hat on head and briefcase in hand to work to be the breadwinner of his family. But what did Ward do? For the six years that it was on the air, Ward’s actual job was vague. He worked for a “big company” doing who knows what exactly? He could have been a stockbroker, an architect, a real estate agent, an attorney, an insurance salesman, or a slew of other professions. The point is, Ward’s specific job title or duties weren’t important to the narrative of the show. All that was needed was to show viewers that he was a hardworking provider for his family. Thus, the nature of his job was a backdrop.
In a sports romance, it is not enough to have a character be a current or former athlete for the story to be considered a sports romance. If the sports aspect of the story is unimportant and can easily be substituted by something else, then that’s not a sports romance. Rather, it’s a romance with an athletic character. Now, I know the arguments against this position but think about it.
Many of John Grisham’s stories and novels feature characters who are attorneys. It makes sense. His plots deal with the legal system. Being an attorney is a central aspect of many of his characters and plots. In Harper Lee’s American classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, it is fitting that one of the major characters, Atticus Finch, is an attorney. Exchanging the professions in these books would create an overall different feel and direction for the stories. Now, what if Frank Kennedy in Gone with the Wind was an attorney? Would it matter to the story? Would it change any outcomes or character arcs? In Bridget Jones’ Diary, Mark Darcy is an attorney. How much does this impact the story? Suppose he was a wealthy run-of-the-mill philanthropist or business investor? Would that make any difference?
Another way to consider it is this. Suppose a story has a character who is a vampire, but that character is never shown doing anything “vampirish.” Instead, the story focuses on retrieving a lost treasure and the only reason the vampire is relevant is because he/she was alive when the treasure was originally lost. The vampire poses no threat to the recovery of this treasure or any other characters in the story. He/she is simply there to provide expository information to the other characters. This wouldn’t be considered a vampire story.
Yet, that is only half of it. Just because a story is a sports romance does not mean it is chock full of sports jargon and Game Day scenes. I mean, it could be but not necessarily. On Netflix, there is a series titled Last Chance U. Its focus is on JUCO athletes. The majority of the show does concentrate on athletes participating in games and training. However, it also highlights their struggles with school and their personal lives. With some shifting, this show could spend more time emphasizing the educational aspect and still be equally interesting. The role of sports would be decreased but still prominent.
Some readers are put off from reading sports romances because they believe the text will be too technical for them to understand. Good and creative storytellers prevent that problem by presenting the sport in such a way that it can be understood by sports novices while not alienating sports enthusiasts. This reminds me of a conversation I had with two former neighbors some years ago. As I was entering my residence one Friday afternoon, one of the neighbors was standing outside speaking with another neighbor. I had been grocery shopping for a Saturday game day party. My neighbor, seeing the bags and being from a rival university, naturally tossed a few playful taunts my way. Smack talking is nothing for me; so, I gave it right back to him. In it, I mentioned that his team had no depth. The other neighbor’s eyes grew as wide as saucers (I hadn’t yet met him). “Listen to you,” he said. To which the first neighbor applied, “Oh, man, she knows her stuff.” (Well, of course, I do. *big eye roll* It’s so sexist and antiquated to think a woman can’t talk sports, but I digress.) So, once the second neighbor realized I could hold my own, he decided to have a go at me. Everyone was laughing and having a good ole ha-ha and kee-kee when the second man’s wife (who I also had not met) came outside and ventured across the lawn to join the bunch. Only, this beautiful woman wasn’t a happy camper. She had an issue…with me…because I had her husband’s full attention. And she clearly had no inkling of what is going on in the conversation and felt left out. Well, that wasn’t my fault, but okay.
What did I do? I changed my language. I began speaking in a way that she could follow the conversation without feeling patronized—something that it seemed her husband had never done. I was able to include her. The basics of many sports aren’t that complex and can be learned in a couple of minutes if one is interested. I convey this to readers who may be hesitant to give sports romances a try.
Okay, okay, I know what some people might be thinking at this point—that I’m biased towards sports romance. I won’t disagree with that. For that reason, it is only fair that I list reasons that a person may want to avoid picking up a sports novel for their next vacation read or rainy afternoon pastime.
First, sports romances aren’t for everyone. Depending on the sport, the story may contain violence or profanity (both sometimes graphic). For example, a sports romance about boxing or bullfighting may describe people or animals being harmed. This is not always the case because each story is different. The point here is that the probability of some themes occurring in some sports novels are more likely than others. There’s less likelihood that there would be a bloodbath during story about a golf tournament than the San Fermin Festival (a.k.a., Running of the Bulls).
Second, if the reader detests sports and has determined that he/she will dislike the story no matter what, then why should he/she punish himself by trudging through it? Years ago, I chaperoned a school trip for my daughter. At lunch, the class dined at a food court that had many vendors serving authentic international foods. From a young age, I introduced my daughter to various cultures. She became very excited when she saw a vendor of Greek cuisine and wanted the baklava. Long story short, I purchased it for her, and one of her classmates kept making negative comments about the way it looked but asked to try a piece. She proceeded to make a big production stating repeatedly that she was “scared” to eat it. Upon putting it to her lips and even on her tongue, she began gagging. She continued making a scene by spitting and sputtering. Her mind had never been opened to giving the food a fair assessment. Thus, her “trying it” had been a waste and, in my opinion, a farse of dramatics and theatrics for attention. The upsetting part is that her actions persuaded many of her other classmates not to sample any food from the vendor based on her predetermined bias.
Along the same lines, if a reader isn’t interested in any sports jargon, then it’s likely best to make a pass. Some sports romances contain more sports jargon than others, but likely all of them will have some. Over the years, there have been numerous court and crime programs on television that most people are familiar with terms such as “sidebar,” “inculpatory evidence,” and “habeas corpus.” Terms less familiar are terms such as “amicus curial,” “en banc,” and “motion in limine.” In real-life situations, attorneys, judges, and paralegals use these terms regularly, and there’s no need to explain what they mean. Thus, it would not be unreasonable to see these terms written into dialogue or a crime novel to have characters sound authentic. If having unfamiliar terms draws a reader from the story and the reader is uninterested in learning that lingo, then again, maybe avoid this type of book. The same is true for sports romances. If the reader does not wish to read sports jargon, a sports romance is not the path to go.
Understand that the action in some sports romance may be difficult to follow for a reader who is unfamiliar with the sport being discussed. Consider it this way. Readers who have difficulty following a play-by-play radio broadcast of a sporting event may have difficulty following the action in a sports romance. Because there is no visual, so the reader must put together what the scene looks like in his/her head. This may be challenging if the reader does not know what terms mean or do not know the rules of the game. For example, if a scene states that players are setting up for an onside kick or a screen, football fans will readily know how players are positioned. If the play reads that the ball traveled eight yards and a defensive man fell on the ball. Or maybe the ball had a slow dribble and was allowed to roll ten yards without any offensive players touching it. In both scenarios, football fans will know there’s a problem—well, there is for one of the teams. A non-sports person may not recognize any issues. If either one of these plays decided the outcome of the game, without further explanation from the author, the reader may be clueless about the implications. Therefore, the reader may draw the correct conclusion about the winner or why if it is not candidly stated. The author may not choose to write an extended explanation if he/she feels it will disrupt the story’s pacing. In this instance, the reader may feel dissatisfied and complain that the story is difficult to follow or comprehend.
Lastly, don’t read it just because it may be trendy. My mother dislikes sports. (Honestly, I don’t know how that’s possible in my family but flukes happen.) She does, however, know the difference between a touchdown and home run. My father, on the other hand, loved sports and would take us to live many sporting events. I’ll never forget how excited my father was my senior year when I played in the Powder Puff game. It was an event he constantly talked about (because it was so freaking hilarious all of the shenanigans that happened that night) until his final days. He loved sports. My mother didn’t (and doesn’t). My mother attended, not so much because she felt she was obligated but because she did not want to feel left out or left at home. Yet, it was apparent that she did not experience the same excitement and gratification as the rest of us. Often, I would look over and find her moping in the stands while the rest of us were screaming our lungs out. This dampened the overall mood for everyone. Eventually, sporting events became less and less of family outings to appease my mother, and we were left with doing boring and drab events such as shopping outlet malls. When given the option, I choose to remain at home. Sports romance is an option among many other romance subgenre options. There’s no need to voluntarily introduced anything unpleasant, unfulfilling, and/or unrewarding in one’s life. If several friends or book junkies recommend a sports romance novel and a reader knows that he/she will not enjoy it, he/she should just avoid reading.
In conclusion, sports romance is a wonderful subgenre. It is a niche and not one that will be the preference for all readers. At the heart of all sports romances is a dynamic love story. The sports element included will be evident and play a key role in the storytelling. The quantity of the inclusion of sports will be determined by the author. Thus, some sports romances have more of a sports angle than others. Readers interested in sports romance, but having limited knowledge of sports, need not be apprehensive about reading one. The majority of times, the author writes enough context clues to allow such readers to follow the story easily.
Because my newest sports romance, Penalty Kill, is going live in just three days (three days, can you believe it?), I am celebrating with a free book giveaway. To enter, comment below on what your favorite sport is and why. For an additional chance to win, hop over to my book giveaway post on Instagram and leave a comment along with the #penaltykill.
So, now it’s that time to let me know what your thoughts and opinions are. Are you a fan of sports romance? What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with these points? Did you find any of this information helpful? Let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comment section. Also, let me know if you would like me to cover more of these types of topics or dive deeper into this one. If you like this post, please click the like button and share it. If you’re not following me on Creole Bayou blog, what are you waiting for? There’s always room at the bayou.
Locker Room Love book #4, Penalty Kill, releases on 08/21/21. Grab your copy at Amazon or at https://books2read.com/penaltykill for more options. Continue reading for the blurb and more information about
When the scandal of a double homicide threatens to destroy his career, this billionaire hockey player hires an ambitious sports agent to improve his public image. It’s time to let the puckery begin.
Timothée Croneau is that jock—the bad boy superstar with the naughty reputation. He’s handsome, arrogant, and a billionaire. He’s also the number one person-of-interest in a double homicide and recently traded to a losing team who is showing him no love. And wouldn’t it be just his luck that his career splashed in the toilet six months after his long-time agent kicked the bucket? Now, he’s stuck with Ryker Kitsch. An agent is supposed to fix his life, though, not break his heart.
Speaking of breaks, ex-athlete Ryker Kitsch wants his in the sports agency realm. He sees his chance to make a name for himself by helping rebrand his agency’s newly acquired hockey star, Timothée Croneau. The guy needs every lick of positive PR he can get. So, why is the devilishly gorgeous forward fighting him at every step and leaving Ryker to wonder if he’s been hired for a babysitting gig?
The mess Timothée is stirring was never in any contract Ryker was hired to handle. One thing’s for sure. Whether it’s a forecheck or backcheck, collision is inevitable.
Order your copy at:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/ B08YMYZF2S
Other book sellers: https://books2read.com/penaltykill
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3ex0N9p
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/30zhdWC
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/3vjFmP6
Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/3cjyFnE
Missed the three in my hockey romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box (book #1), where it is one minute in the box or a lifetime out, is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. For more links where to purchase or to read the blurb, please visit http://bit.ly/2i9SqpH.
For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou.
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Until next time, happy reading and much romance. Laissez le bon temps rouler.