Why do men find the offside rule so tricky?

This whole hoo-ha about the sports presenters dissing a female linesperson at a football match and saying she didn’t understand the offside concept struck me as a really big load of silliness – until a chap came round to sell me a pension today.

Time and again he said things like, ‘I’ll spare you the boring bits,’ ‘I’ve been all through this so you don’t have to,’ and ‘I don’t think we need to worry about that part, do we?’ Don’t get me wrong, he was a nice enough man. And it’s true, my eyes would have totally glazed over if he had waffled on for a second longer about the FTSE 100 index, etc etc. But just because I choose to find something boring, does not mean that I am constitutionally incapable of understanding it because I am female. I am a journalist, for goodness’ sake. There’s nothing I can’t get my head around if I really, really have to – and usually I can even remember it for long enough to write it down. I am merely making an executive decision, outside work, not to focus on several dull areas of life, like pensions, football and DIY.

Maybe men guard these areas so jealously because they secretly suspect they have been palmed off with the mind-bogglingly snooze-worthy bits of human existence, since women can’t be bothered with them. But it is very odd. There is nothing very complicated about the off-side rule, for example, though men seem to think that getting to grips with it is the equivalent of cracking the Enigma code, painting the Mona Lisa and baking a perfect soufflee simultaneously. Both my daughters know it, though their joint enthusiasm for football is probably less even than mine, and you could easily get our collective level of enthusiasm to dance on the head of a pin, if it could be bothered, which frankly it can’t.

TL and I were discussing the whole offside farago last night. ‘Even Child One and Two know the offiside rule, and so do I, why do men assume it’s so hard to learn?’ I said. ‘Of course, you can’t be expected to know it, you don’t know anything about football,’ he replied. It took me a moment to realise he’d completely misheard me and thought I’d said we didn’t know it. ‘But we do know it!’ I insisted. ‘Oh, of course, sorry,’ he said quickly.

Thank goodness he didn’t test me on it.

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