DEAR ABBY: My family is big on sports and discusses them at every gathering, big or small. I played sports growing up, but I don't care to follow them in my adult life like the rest of my family does. Sometimes I'm left out of conversations because of my lack of knowledge on the current stats, etc. I have always refrained from speaking about the things I'm passionate about because of lack of interest from them.

My good friend said maybe I'm considered less of a man by my brothers and my dad because of my apathy about sports. I served eight years in the Army, with four deployments between Iraq and Afghanistan, and was wounded twice. Not a man?

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This issue may seem childish, but it is something that affects me to this day. Do you have any suggestions?

- Sitting on the Sidelines

DEAR SITTING: Yes. Stop listening to the armchair analysis of that "friend."

When sports enthusiasts spout statistics, what they really want is someone to listen and appreciate their acumen.

It's sad that you haven't been able to let your father and brothers know about the things that interest you, but has it occurred to you perhaps you should have spoken up more about your passions?

Not everyone is the same; not everyone is interested in the same things. It doesn't mean that anyone is more or less "manly" than someone else.

You're a military vet, so stop measuring yourself by anyone else's yardstick because it isn't fair to you or to your family.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.