How to turn football fandom into awesome new friendships

If you’ve ever wondered what pro football players talk about on the sidelines, two-time Grey Cup winner Chris Getzlaf has a tip: They’re sharing a common interest!

This is not all that different from what you and your buddies do while watching the game at home. It’s a lot of fun, for sure, but getting social with other guys is also good for reducing stress, improving your mood, keeping you mentally sharp, helping you get active, and even helping you live longer.

Chris has some easy tips for making healthy, fun and rewarding social connections:

Do what you like

How do new friendships start? “You just need to find something you enjoy doing that involves other people,” Chris suggests, adding that this can also give you a new appreciation for your chosen pursuit. “When you show interest in what somebody else is doing, that opens up a discussion where you learn a little bit about them, they learn a little bit about you, and you both might learn something new about what you’re doing together.”

Pick something you enjoy — bowling, video games, barbecuing, hiking, playing darts, the list goes on — and chances are a quick Internet search will reveal a club, team or special event in your area that welcomes new members or participants. Likewise, if you’re a football fan, tailgating before the game, or finding your team’s “home” pub in your area, are both great ways to make new friends.

Get social at work

“It can be busy at work, no doubt, but work can also be a social place,” Chris says, pointing out that working on projects with others, going for lunch in a group, and trading stories on your coffee breaks are great examples of ways to find common ground. “You never know,” he adds. “Your co-workers could end up becoming your life-long friends.”

Unplug

“I think technology can make human connections difficult because people get too caught up in their phones or computers,” Chris says. “Try to engage in activities that put you face-to-face with other people.”

The takeaway here: Instead of watching the big game by yourself on your phone or computer screen, head to a local pub for some easy camaraderie with other fans.

Plan ahead

“Any social event you attend, or activity you take part in, can be made easier and more enjoyable simply by knowing a little bit about who is there or what you are doing,” Chris says. Memorizing a good bowling joke, for instance, or having an awesome barbecue tip in your back pocket, will make conversations easier to start and enjoy. On that note…

Q: Why are football players banned from bowling alleys?

A: After getting a strike, they spike the ball!

“Relationships are all about making connections,” Chris says. “Whether it’s you and your friends watching the game at home, or you and a fellow fan meeting in the stands for the first time, sharing a common interest like football makes socializing easier and more fun.”

What are some ways you like to socialize?

About the Author

Adam Bisby

Adam Bisby

Adam Bisby is a Toronto-based freelance journalist and father of two. His award-winning stories have appeared in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and National Post newspapers, in magazines like Explore, Reader's Digest, International Traveller and Canadian Family, and on websites including MSN.com and DontChangeMuch.ca.

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