Monday, October 15, 2007

Sports Fans Are Nerds

Thats right, I said it. They are nerds. And I mean it, too. Like, nerds-nnnnnneeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrdddddddddddddddssssssssss!!!! Ogre-scream nerds. Seriously. Any sort of pass they may have gotten should be immediately revoked.

Not too long ago (but long enough ago that I should have posted this by now...) I worked an event for sports fans that I tried to describe to a friend who eventually characterized it as 'like a Star Trek convention for [sports] fans.' And it hit me, she had nailed it. Not only was it not any different, in many ways it was far worse.

Look at how we would characterize a Star Trek convention and compare:

Mostly men?

Check. In fact, the sports convention fairs far worse in this category. Star Trek has a rather sizable female following, really. Comparing the women in attendance to this event to the ones I found when doing a documentary of a gaming convention in college, the sports show faired badly.


Check. Unless that large balding man is Jose Conseco...but I doubt it. At least the Sci Fi/Trek fan has the decency to admit that they are dressing up.

Eye for Minutia?

Oh yeah. The sports fan is nothing if not a repository for a list of numbers, dates, and rosters. We're led to believe that somehow knowing when and where the Klingons and Federation signed a treaty is being a total nerd ("Who knows those kind of things?") but knowing the batting average and line up of the 1954 Cubs is normal? I don't know either, but I can guess which person spent too much time in a room with not enough light on a single subject, and he isn't wearing Spock ears...

Too much time spent arguing imaginary match ups?

Bar fights have started over whether or not the 1964 Bengals could beat the 1976 Chargers (yeah sports fans, I grabbed those two out of the air. If you just exclaimed loudly, "That doesn't make any sense" or something like that, welcome to my point.) This is different than 'Is Picard a better captain than Kirk,' how?

Well, that's the crux of the difference that these devoted and deluded little nerds cling to. Sports are 'real' and therefore matter, while Star Trek, comic books, Sci Fi, etc. are works of fiction and don't matter. Because there really was a Walt Chamberlain and a Micheal Jordan, arguments about who was better in their prime are somehow more valid than whether Spiderman could beat up Batman.

Yeah, well-bullshit. There is no difference because they are both bullshit arguments. The games that Chamberlain and Jordan played were different and so were the teams. The fact that they both existed doesn't make their fantasy match up anymore of an act of mental masturbation.

In fact, the fictional characters represent different philosophies, different ideals. They are Man vs. Superman, sometimes literally. Justice vs. Revenge. Individual vs. Society. Power vs. Intellect. It's the discussion of ideas dressed up in tights with action tags. The fantasy sports match ups are just the tights.

I would argue that even though the athletes 'exist,' they matter less. They played a game, people paid a fuckload of money to watch it. Half of them won, half of them lost, and it was done every year for more and more money.

It's not my intention to just crap all over sports. A close basketball game is fun to watch. I love racing and can tell you who the top manufacturers are in number of wins at Le Mans. Sports can be fun to watch. Comics can be fun to read. Star Trek can be enjoyable to watch. But let's not kid ourselves, devotion to these things are peas in a pod.

It's no mistake that you get baseball cards the same place you get comic books.


  1. Welcome back, dude. Since I have vanished swiftly and silently away from Nationstates again, I was wondering if I'd lost touch for good this time. Glad I hadn't.

    And you're dead on with this post. Record geeks, film geeks, Star trek geeks all wear their geekdom with pride, but let someone call a sports fan a geek, and it's probably on, because sports is manly he-man kind of stuff, not fantasy wish fulfillment. Never.

  2. With the way things are going at NS, you haven't missed much. I almost long for the primaries just to get things going again...

    Might be why I finally came back here, even if only two people read it I don't find myself going, "You've got to be kidding..."

  3. I've been contemplating a literary journalism project for a few years on the subject of "Fandom"; basically, the idea came to me when I was obsessively reading interrnet message boards (that's right-- I'm a fan of message boards in general)-- people would get so fired up over the smallest things. The best was when Marvel Comics announced that they were going to be doing some work with the producers of Guiding Light-- like, some soap opera characters would be crossing over into an issue of Avengers or something, and some superheroes would appear (out-of-costume, if memory serves) on Guiding Light. Message boards devoted to both comics and soap operas exploded in outrage-- "We don't want to be associated with those losers!" people on all sides (virtually) screamed.

    So, yeah... I think someone should write a book or produce a documentary about fans in general-- soap opera fans, comic book fans, sports fans, Star Trek fans, obsessive music fans... All of it. 'Cause they're all pretty much the same, but they're all convinced that somehow their little obsession is more "normal" and less "geeky."

  4. That's a pretty good idea.