For years, I saw sports as the sworn enemy of all things nerd. My disdain for sports matched my passion for my nerd interests. Playing them, watching them, it didn’t matter. I hated sports. I think it was more than just not being good at them. It was even more than a general disdain for the high school sports stars who acted like they ran the school. It was the sports fans themselves for whom I really developed an animosity.
It wasn’t that I begrudged the sports fan for liking sports. It was the double standard that existed, and still exists for the sports fan. Being able to name all 32 NFL football fields is “acceptable” by society’s standards. Being able to name ever actor who portrayed The Doctor is not. Wearing a football jersey? That’s fine. Is that a Green Lantern shirt you have on? That’s not cool. Gotta get home to check my fantasy football results! Great! Can’t do anything with you Saturday, my D&D group is getting together. Dork! Wear nothing but body paint and shorts to a freezing cold football game…AWESOME! Wear a Klingon outfit to a convention…LOSER!
Not that I really care what society thinks about me and what I like. (Well, that’s not exactly true. I actually relish being somewhat scorned to the point that I find that when my nerd interests become too mainstream, I’m not all that interested anymore…but that’s another post.) What bugged me was that there was no difference in attitude between sports fanatics and sci-fi/comics fanatics, it was just a different thing to follow.
So, if society wasn’t going to look down on sports fans, I’d match that and look down on them all myself. Sports was my arch-enemy and I treated it as such. This dynamic probably played itself out the most vehemently during one RPG session we had in March a few years back. During a break, Michael wanted to check the scores of the NCAA Tourney games going on that day. “If you want to watch basketball, you should have stayed home. Don’t turn on the TV in the middle of D&D!!”
However, just a year or two later, I completely changed my tune. I got some freelance work with a book publisher who did sports books. In an effort to learn more about what I was working on, I began reading up a bit about the games, listened to some sports talk radio, and then started watching the games. And before I knew it, I was hooked into a whole new field of interest. It was all so very new and fresh. I had learned all I could about Star Trek and Superman. There was nothing new. I was getting bored. My tastes had become a little more obscure just to try to find something new to learn about. But there it was, all the trivia I could ever want to devour in sports stats and scores.
And I find that I like sports for some of the same reasons I like comic book and sci-fi heroes. To see, or just even to know that people have done some amazing things is very neat. To watch teams come back from behind and win a hard fought game or to see a team go undefeated can be amazing. And even more than that, when a team or player is truly a good person, from helping an opponent up off the floor to going overseas in the off-season to make the world a better place, it’s easy to root for them.
Even in this age where nerd stuff is more generally accepted, I guess I still kind of resent the sports fan. I had the opportunity to go to a Florida State football game this past season. These fans don’t know how good they have it. There they and 80,000 of their fellow fans sit together singing the same songs and chanting the same words. They do this in spite of cold weather. Hundreds of people are involved in putting on this weekly show. Thousands of dollars are spent to ensure it happens. Never do the fans have to worry about their show getting canceled.
If only Joss Whedon’s Firefly had had that kind of support, maybe my show would still be on.