The Big Picture: A Nerd By Any Other Name

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Thank you

This made me think for a while. ^^

Yeah, things is though, sports fans will always be more "socially accepted" because they are outside, fitter (in most cases) and importantly, socialising. You CANNOT say that things like games are sociable, ESPECIALLY mmo's, because they encourage players to remain at home, playing and leveling etc. Companies like blizzard rely on the adictiveness of their games to keep money rolling in, and it works and theres nothing wrong with that. However, although you may argue that you meet new people online, ironically it's at the expense of REAL-LIFE interactions. Paradoxically, you are growing less social, the more you socialise.

Sports on the other hand promotes physical fittness (and therefore MENTAL fitness) and team playing. Again, mmo's do team playing, but its simply not the same, because you arent THERE. Your playing in a team, while remaining quite alone.

This isnt a dig at games, or people who play them. Its just laying out the facts (or what i would consider to be facts) from an outsider point of view. I am neither an avid sports fan or a die hard nerd. I am just your average joe, i like a bit of both.

Besides, physical exercise hasn't been proven to have any negative physical side effects, and conversely has a lot of research to show that sports have a very profound impact on mental health (along with healthy eating and sleep, two things that aren't really part of nerd idea).
Gaming, although there are very few actual links, carry the stigma of being BAD for you, mostly the idea that it affects mental health. Which isnt ENTIRELY unaccurate, because some mmo's do actually become addictive, like cigarettes become addictive.

Thats just my idea anyway. I say again, i dont belong to either category (and i resent being labbeled anyway) and i simply call them like i see them.

You nailed it, Bob. Also, you make a fine Mario.
I don't know why but I seriously ROFLd with the Twi-hards/Yankees analogy.

Social differences aside, the reason sports fans and other nerds wouldn't come together because they have nothing to really talk about. At least a Star Wars fan and Star Trek fan would have something vaguely in common to talk about. Being neither, I find myself just as bored listening to either of those types of nerds go on about their favorite genre as I do a sports fan prattling on about their favorite or most hated team.

When people don't have much to talk about or a reason to come together to talk about something, and have both parties genuinely interested, they're going to remain separate social circles.

Great job, though I would like to take note that Dr. Seuss did not come up with the word. Rather the word use to be used at freakshows. The word geek would be used as freak. The reason why most people were called a geek threw the mainstream was because those outside the norm were called a geek. Where this barrier was put up to separate the geeks, much like in comics. Though the reason why it became ingrained in people's mind was because of Dr. Seuss. Since I don't think the word was widely used outside of freakshows till after WW2, which was about the time Dr. Seuss became real popular I believe. I may be wrong on this, but the main reason I bring this up is I remember there being this black and white movie with a freak of a creature that was being called a geek. I believe the line in the movie was "Come see the geek". So I may have memories mixed with facts and be wrong here.

Wouldn't Spider-Man be more analogous to the Mets rather than the Cubs?

No because the Cubs it is a deal of they tend to be loved for the same reasons as Spiderman. When they are doing well thing never work as they should. It is the main reason why the Mets last win in the World Series was 1986, while the Cubs have never as far as I know. It is why the Cubs have the nickname of the "Lovable Losers" much like with Spiderman. The feeling of the loser fighting a losing battle, that every single win has this feel of victory against the odds. Something that Spiderman does, it is also why Spiderman is a voyalist fantasy for many nerds. Since at most geeks are at best the lovable losers.

You don't need to overcomplicate things. Simply put Nerds are people who don't fit in with the societal norms. It doesn't even have to involve fandom, although that can go along with it. If don't fit in, your a nerd.

Similarities between fantasy fandom, and sports fandom can be made, but by and largely come down to intellect. Not everyone can get their heads around a lot of science fiction and fantasy concepts, and even if they can none of it is real. On the other hand "Man that can jump really high" is something anyone can understand, and an accomplishment that can be appreciated in of itself. Thus anyone can get behind something that is real, verifyable, and involves an activity that they could participate in themselves with an actual, tangible result even if they are not as successful at it.

Everyone can pretty much understand the fundemental idea of kicking a ball into a certain area where other guys try and stop you. Everyone can understand the same thing with putting a ball through a hoop. It's very simple, and very tangible. Not everyone can understand or appreciate say a paper and pencil RPG where all the action happens in your imagination and people can spend hours talking about fantastic concepts, without producing anything tangible, and somehow be entertained.

You'll notice that over the years a lot of things that WERE Nerd domain have been increasingly dumbed down an simplified which is why the mainstream have managed to get involved in these games. A point being made frequently that for the original group of fans these dumbed down games have basically ruined gaming. It's sort of like where if you ran sporting events "Harrison Bergeron" style where drugs were administered to all of the athletes so nobody would have an unfair advantage. "Man who can jump really high" becomes "Man who can jump like everyone else", kind of ruins the whole thing.

You can see this issue discussed here on "The Escapist" in various forms with a divide between "real gamers" and "casual" gamers which is something I'm not going to rehash here since this post is long enough and I have no idea who is bothering to read it as it is. :)

When it comes to comic books, I think they represent a rather unusual medium. To be honest I think the problem with comics is that due to societal panic reflexs, similar to the current anti-violent video game crusades, they wound up being regulated to the point where it was impossible for them to grow up with the people reading them. They were very simple stories, whih took place in idealized worlds, and could never progress beyond that. Thus it took a rare kind of person to remain interested in them beyond a few years in childhood. Though to be honest comic book fans and collectors were never really scorned *JUST* for that, since everyone read them at some point, and people can understand both nostolgia, and the motivation to collect something. The current success of the comic book-inspired movies is because they are demonstrating to a mainstream that had by and large moved on that comics had broken free of the previous conventions and have been able to grow up (somewhat) while still remaining very simple.

"Star Wars" is also an interesting case because it's not really science fiction, it's "Space Fantasy" whether anyone wants to admit it or not. The entire thing is pretty much a fairy tale set in space (and like many fairy tales in their original forms, was very dark in it's initial conception, but that's another whole discussion). Even the "A long, long, time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away" is meant to invoke the image of the classic childhood tale.

Star Wars pretty much throws flashy, easy-to understand stuff out there, without bothering to explain how any of it works or makes sense. Sure there are nerds who took it to a whole new level and demanded explanations (or created them), but to the typical viewer it's pretty much "ooooh, pretty... look at all the lights and FX. Wow is that a metal bikini?".

Compare this to say reading a Science Fiction novel. First you need to be able to read at a reasonably high level (and literacy has been a problem in the US for decades sadly). Then if you are reading actual science fiction, nothing just happens purely because it's cool. If you read things like Pier's Anthony's "Bio Of A Space Tyrant" series for example, above and beyond all of the gunfights, ship battles, and (frequently kinky) sex, are explanations on how everything works and why things are happening. Why ships are shaped like spheres, how and why battles are fought largely by "Carrier Ships" using AI controlled drones, the motivations and techniques of space piracy, the subculture of migrant labourers in the far future. All of these things are parts of the story, you omit that kind of stuff and your typically left with a bunch of wierd looking space ships and mindless violence and sex with nothing to explain why anything works the way it does. This is by and large why science fiction movies failed on such an epic level before "Star Wars" which pretty much was developed to use the trappings of sci-fi with an intentionally simplistic storyline... and it worked. Today the remake of "Battlestar Galactica" is about as deep as something like this gets for the mainstream, and it's like a kiddy pool compared to serious science fiction.

I think perhaps the best example of the problem can sort of be illustrated in the movie "Battlefield Earth". I won't say that the book on which it's based is wonderful, but it's far from the worst thing out there. When you hear people in the mainstream talking about that movie you hear people talk about how "dumb" it is that a bunch of savages could learn to fly planes using simulators in what seemed to be a ridiculously short period of time, or how a race that had obliterated human civilization inside of 4 minutes could be so totally stomped (even in a smaller scale battle) by refurbished 20th century weapons. Of course if you read the book you'd know that the "uprising" took quite a while to get going, and also the key element was that the aliens were arrogant and managed to win due to having total surprise. Their weapons tech as far a face to face confrontation wasn't any better, they had just developed in some other areas (a point not unique to this story, I've mentioned it in other posts discussiong alien invasions and the like). The bottom line was that the aliens themselves were surprised the same way (as I remember there was an analogy), and never having actually engaged the human military due to it being surprised they had no real respect for the fact that in atmosphere that fighter jet is still going multiple mach speeds (just like your fighters) and your ships are not going to ignore getting hit by a couple of laser guided missles packing explosive warheads. Sure you might have a fancy hand held energy cannon that can put a hole in something, but if you get hit by bullets from an assault rifle your just as dead. Of course watching that movie, you'd never pick up on any of this, and it was all glossed over. If you knew the book somewhat to begin with you could get where it was coming from, but due to it not being spelled out (and under a time limit as a movie) the thing suffered to mainstream audiences. Only with very long series like "Stargate" do you see much discussion of concepts, and that's something that is gradually worked in over YEARS if a series survives at a very basic level.

In my language, (swe) sport nerds ARE called sport nerds. So is everyone else.

Music nerds
History nerds
You name it

with the exception of maybe cooking nerds. Never heard that one

Actually I do refer to sports fans as sports nerds.

And in my opinion the reason that sports fans and nerds don't 'come together' is that nerd culture is actively hostile to outsiders and that those few who want to be a part of both already are.

As far as the brain is concerned, there is no difference between having an encyclopedic knowledge of comic books, movies, sports, guns, or NASCAR. That kinds of specialized knowledge gets stored in and accessed by the same parts of the brain.

yeah I can kind of see that too. I guess the terms nerd and geek are very convoluted and need to be further examined. However, I do think a divide needs to be made, and the problem with this weeks big picture is that bob is using the idea of geek and nerd synonymously.

Really enjoyed today's topic ... Well done ... well done

A clever concept but the one thing your thesis fails to account is that Classic Nerd is less outgoing about their fandom in public then a sports nerd. You don't see people randomly walking around just in a 'costume' like a sports team jersey. Cosplay in general is a very elite form of fandom among the nerd world; that though I do not have hard numbers I would spitball it in the less then 15% range of total Classical Nerd Fans doing it even at the nerd Super Bowl. (Comic Con)

I also wouldn't try and chop it up to fear of public ridicule, because I would say that nearly every nerd has no problem talking about their nerdom, or even sporting a t-shirt that supports their favorite genera of nerd. Think 12 million people play wow, that is more people then there are Washington Redskins, and Detroit Lions fans put together and multiplied by a factor of 10.... okay maybe not a factor of ten but you get the point.

That's a lot of fucking nerds. Yet you don't see a more verbal usage of WOW Cannon, or for that matter any Nerd related activity.

"He through a curve ball at me." You don't have to like baseball to understand it. Or, "he hit that answer out of the park." Or, calling someone the "Babe Ruth of accounting." People will know he is one fucking bad ass accountant. If you would say, "He is Captain Kirk when it comes to the ladies." I would bet less then half would understand what your trying to say.

You can't chop this up to one being around longer then the other, for Science and Math has been around since the dawn of time, and Science fiction books were around long before Babe Ruth was an itch in his dad's crotch.

Which leads me to think it is the nature of Stardom which is associated with Sports over Nerds. Granted someone can "Cosplay" as Tom Brady, but Tom Brady is a real person, and you can imitate someone of such skill paying homage to a hero. A real person. As a Nerd, I would say 99.99% of your "Hero's" are fictional. You don't have to be a Psych Major to know that Idolizing and obsessing over something that isn't real to what is real isn't the same.

I think that is the one thing that prevents peaceful coexistence between Classical Nerd and Sports Nerd. One is 99.9% based on real events, people, and stories, the other 99.9% based on fiction, people that only live in ones mind, and a story created and destroyed by a simple thought.

Now where is my Pittsburgh Penguins Jersey.

This is a brilliant point and I think I have evidence of it's validity...

Me and my housemate have an almost identical attitude to life, share a plethora of similar opinions and generally agree with each other about most things. Only difference is, he's a sports fan, I'm a nerd (although I prefer geek!) Since living with him, I know a lot more about sports and he knows a lot more about games.

This kind of makes me think...
Chris Kluwe (punter for the Minnesota Vikings) must be the king of all nerds.
He plays professional football and plays Warhammer 40K on a regular basis...
I don't know how he does it XD

Corey Longest:
wearing a jersey is actually really different from wearing a costume. the reason why is if the a person were to wear an entire starfleet uniform they would get just as much crazy looks as a guy wearing and entire football uniform (shoulder pads, jersey, helmet, football pants, cleats).
the jersey is one component of the uniform so it doesnt seem so radical. the same would happen if a person were to wear just the top from a starfleet uniform, people prolly wouldnt notice.

Dude, I was totally going to say that. By Bob's standards back in school when I'd wear a Roddy Piper Hot-Rod shirt, I guess I was wearing a costume even though I never wore a kilt, boots and knee pads.

Still, does that mean everyone who ever wore one of my t-shirts from my wrestling days are cosplaying as me?

Very good point there. I've never thought about how close nerds' and sports fans' behaviour are so close to one another. You brought up some very good points, all of them very sound.

You also asked the question, "If we're so much alike, why aren't sports fans considered nerds?" I'll tell you why. Social domination and acceptance. As much as us geeks and nerds have "claimed" the terms not as insults but as badges of honor (I literally have a badge right now that says "Geek to the Core", look to the left), nerd and geek ares still kind of derogatory amongst mainstream culture. They see nerds/geeks as weirdos who fail at "proper" social interaction, and obsess about strange and arcane things. Doesn't help that most of the people in mainstream culture don't have enough self-awareness to notice the parallels in their own life. And since sports are so god damn popular and mainstream, there is nothing wrong with dressing up to support your local group, despite the fact you have nothing to do with it.

So in the end, the only thing that separates us nerds and geeks from the sports nuts is who is accepted. The sports nuts are accepted amongst mainstream culture as "normal", while we're considered odd and "wrong".

Funny cause I'm wearing my football shirt of my team right now.

Have to disagree with the point of sport fans not having any impact on teams and therefore it doesn't matter whether they follow the team or not. I'm not sure how it is in the US but here in the uk the football clubs or at the centre of their communities and have historically relied on the imcome generated from fans going to games in order to keep running. Not so much true now with all the tv money but still has impact on the teams, especailly in the lower leagues. Also not mentioning the moral boost fans can give their team.

Bob what do you mean sport doesn't matter in life, SPORT IS LIFE! [/joke]

I don't buy the whole "intellect vs physicality" argument. I've known many intelligent and eloquent sports fans that know the history of their team, the team's record against hated rivals, and several years worth of stats. I also know gamers who make rocks look bright.

Rather, I think it boils down to a couple of other areas. One is "mainstream vs niche." Sports have been around for generations. There are people out there who are fans of a given team because their fathers and grandfathers cheered for the team, and their kids most likely will too. On any given weekend in the NFL there are more than a dozen games, each attended by 50,000 or more fans. NHL hockey games draw thousands and they play several times a week. Baseball games occur daily, playing to huge stadiums, and that doesn't even touch on college and high school sporting events. In geek culture, though, there's one event in North America that draws widespread media coverage and interest, and that's San Diego ComicCon. It's easier to pigeonhole geeks and call them "weird" when there's so many fewer of them than sports fans.

The other difference is the "real vs imagined" difference. The fact of the matter is that sports are real and tangible, even though a sports fan can't hope to influence the outcome of a game whether he watches or not. There are real people on that field or rink playing the game. For us geeks, no matter how into the backstory or the character we are, most of us still recognize that it's inherently unreal. Harrison Ford is not Han Solo. Christian Bale is not Batman.

Yes, in the grand scheme of things both fandoms are closer than they would realize. But I suspect that until geek culture becomes a great deal more mainstream than it is now the great divide will remain.

The reason why sports nerds and other nerds (like, say, comic nerds and video game nerds) can't come together and make conversation is because their interests don't necessarily overlap - like how (most of) my TF2 buddies can recite how much damage a scattergun can do at point blank but can't discuss the differences between Pathfinder and 3.5 D&D.

Although supposedly there's a lot less rage out there against nerds than there was. (That is, if the whole jocks-nerds hostility thing is to be believed - although when you think about it, it's eerily similar to how fanboys overreact to rejection of their chosen obsession, except in physical space and a muscle-y advantage - but I digress.) At the risk of being redundant with the rest of the thread, nowadays common wisdom states, "Everybody's a geek about something".

This is indeed interesting looks like we have more in common than I thought. Is this a good thing?

That... was awesome.... thanks for sharing it with us.

Why can't Sports Nerds and Nerd Nerds come together? Go to a Sci-Fi Con and see how many "Star Wars vs Star Trek" or "Kirk vs Picard" Arguments you can start among complete strangers. Fans is short for fanatics, and Fanatics are not reasonable.

Wouldn't Spider-Man be more analogous to the Mets rather than the Cubs?

No because the Cubs it is a deal of they tend to be loved for the same reasons as Spiderman. When they are doing well thing never work as they should. It is the main reason why the Mets last win in the World Series was 1986, while the Cubs have never as far as I know. It is why the Cubs have the nickname of the "Lovable Losers" much like with Spiderman. The feeling of the loser fighting a losing battle, that every single win has this feel of victory against the odds. Something that Spiderman does, it is also why Spiderman is a voyalist fantasy for many nerds. Since at most geeks are at best the lovable losers.

But there's an issue of Peter Parker: Spider-Man where he goes to a Mets game and reminisces about how he and Uncle Ben used to attend games together, and says that he identifies with the Mets because they're both "lovable losers". And Spider-Man's from Queens, so that's two tallies for the Mets analogy.

I'll leave the Pats love and corresponding Yankees hate alone, but...


Do you really think so little of Spider Man to compare him to the Cubs? Or does he simply lose at the end of every comic?

those are some excellent and rather insightful comparisons! I never thought such a parallel existed...but hey I guess there is

I suppose the metz fans are emos or the people still waiting for a good duke nukem game?

Much better than his last few. Also, Yankees = Edward was "lol."

As a side note, my Brownies won last weekend.

either you're talking about the cleveland browns, or you have some pretty athletic brownies...

OT: I agree with you that its pretty stupid to make fun of "nerdy" stuff and hobbies, while thinking "sporty" stuff and hobbies are different and somewhat better.
however, I cant entirely agree with you for one, simple yet powerfull, reason:
you're a patriots fan.

good points. However, I can give a reason for why we don't get along.

Like Christianity and Islam (at least during the crusades), or the French and the English, etc etc, history is littered with examples of two very similar but slightly different cultures clashing against one another. What I think (and many others think too) about the reason for this, is because having someone with too similar a culture to your own, but slightly different, can make people raather uncomfortable - it hits home, so to speak.

I have a feeling that the difference between nerdism and sports fans is a rather similar one...

Hehe, it's funny because I have Aspergers syndrome...

So that makes you a nerd squared! :D

Really good episode, now if you'd excuse me, I'm off to wait patiently for a moment to call a bunch of guys in football jerseys cos players.

(Bob, I'm footing you my medical bills :P )

edit: Oh and yeah, as the above person said, plenty of examples with two similar groups not getting along. Hell, just look at the star wars, wait that won't work, the war between Star Wars and Star Trek fans. It's called two sides of the same coin :)

Nope, anything is pretty much the same when you get to that level. You're replacing "like" with "fan".

Just by changing one word in a sentence makes a big impact "I like comic books" to "I'm a comic book fan" or "I like sports" to "I'm a sports fan".

Once you become a fan(fanatic) then the subject matter is irrelevant. I play different role playing games and have a published game book, though I'm an amateur kick-boxer and I play hockey *shrugs*

Ha! Nerds are everywhere! Maybe nerdom is rather typical after all.

P.S. What's with Movie Bob and sex? He's been on that for like, three weeks.

They already did: It's called Starcraft.

OH boy did the Pats beat the Jets up and down the field for 4 quarters FUCK YEA NEW ENGLAND

Bob, you're existence is unparalleled.
That was some awesome comparison. I think you missed one tho; LARP = 'lets play some fut ball in the back-yard!' Or perhaps any non major-league with paying members.
Oh, and another! Any kind of 'nerd' trading card game = any professional card trading sport.

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