Watching sports has never been my thing. I always thought there were better things to do with my time than sitting through a three-hour hockey game on the couch.

But this year was a game changer for me. As a curious cat, I got suckered into my sister’s world of the NFL – cut to me talking about point spreads and player stats and arguing about who got traded and which football teams will make the Super Bowl. I never missed a Sunday NFL game this season – I am officially obsessed.

If you were like me and still need some convincing to hop on the sports-watching bandwagon, there are several sports bars in the city to help ease you into this addictive world. Trust me – it’s a whole different entertainment experience and you’ll be missing out on the fun.

1. Football Factory (164 Bathurst Street) – I love everything about this bar. It’s small, it’s more intimate and the bartenders are awesome. Though there are only a handful of TV screens, it makes the atmosphere less overwhelming and your eyes can take a break every once in a while. It’s definitely a good place to start for ladies trying to get into a sport. The cute booths make it a great date spot too, but try not to get too distracted from the game.

2. Hoops Sports Bar and Grill (735 Queen Street West) – Ah, Hoops – the place I fell in love with football. A smaller version than the Yonge Street location, Hoops on Queen West has a drool-worthy 126-inch plasma screen behind the bar that you can’t miss walking down the street – you can’t find a better one in this area. Try to snag a sweet spot smack-dab in the middle of the bar for ultimate HD-viewing and beer drinking at your disposal.

3. Dog’s Bollocks (817 Queen Street West) – Just a couple blocks west of Hoops on Queen and you’ve reached Dog’s Bollocks. The brews are cheaper and the crowd a little more hipster. Though the projected screens are not the best quality (especially if you checked out Hoops first), Dog’s Bollocks has a more laid back, sports-watching experience plus you can make more “interesting” new friends here.

4. Real Sports Bar and Grill (15 York Street) – Real Sports right by the Air Canada Centre is my go-to “special occasion” sports bar – I spent both Canadian and American Thanksgiving there. Voted as North America’s Best Sports Bar by ESPN Mobile, Real Sports is like Chuck E. Cheese for adults. The two-storey HD screen is as terrifying as it gets, but snag the space pod-looking booths at the very back and it’s just like a movie theatre. The clientele is just a tad classier than other sports bars, so dress nice, bring a ton of friends and be merry.

5. The Wheat Sheaf (667 King Street West) – The Wheat Sheaf is nice place to simmer down after a mad (and expensive) night at Real Sports. Though sometimes they prefer to play music over sports commentary while a game is on, I would come for the pitchers and pub fare while catching a glance at the score every once in while.

So go forth, ladies. Win those Pro-Lines, start your own Fantasy Leagues and take over these sports bars of Toronto. You won’t know what your life was like before it.

~ Desiree Gamotin