The Big Picture: A Nerd By Any Other Name

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If Yankee Fans are Twihards (I agree with that assessment, myself), what are Mets fans? Please don't say Sonic fans. I don't want to be associated with them.

I suspect that also part of nerd culture has to do with obessing over interlectual things. Sports are fundermentally physical activities, or least percieved that way. As much as there is a mental component to sports they are are seen as primarly physical activities, comparitivly most nerd activities are consisdered primarily mental actvities, and most are. The consumption of media is a mental activity, as is sci fi, fantasy fiction, as is gaming in both computer and pen & paper form.

The other dimention is that some activites are concidered nerdy. Roleplaying is a nerdy activity no matter how often you do it, as is anime outside of a few key titles (which are concidered arty). While a large component of nerd culture is about obsession (much of the hardcore vs casual war is gamer nerds fearing people who only play every so often and don't get 20+ years of gaming cultural refferences) there is also a component that is about escapism and interlectual pursuit.

Parallel question: why is it that one person who plays video games or role-playing games going screwy and killing someone is big news and considered proof positive of the pernicious influence of that particular hobby, but sports fans rioting on a frequent basis during and after the games doesn't seem to draw a similar level of ire directed towards the pernicious influence of sports fandom?

haha yes! i loved the dig on the yankees! yankees suck

Bravo, Bob! I've been saying the same thing for years. But it looks like The Onion beat everyone to the punch.

And at the 2009 Washington Correspondents' Dinner, John Hodgman suggested U.S. President Obama might be the one destined to unite jocks and nerds. Alas, Obama fails the nerd test:

Kristoffer Mattila:
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

Hopefully I'm not echoing someone else, but there are. They go by the (awful) label of 'Foodies.'

I see a lot of your points here Bob, but you are missing one LARGE point here.

As explained in the Futurama episode "I Dated a Robot" everything humans due is in hopes of impressing the opposite sex (or sometime the same sex). Most girls are impressed by men doing or liking manly things because they feel safe and blah blah blah so on and so forth, "jocks" see this and they like it more. "Nerds" feel that if they are nice to girls they will attract someone, which is why "nerds" go nuts for seeing a hot girl in a cos-play, because is shows them that they are out there! "Jocks" pick on nerds because they feel the need to reject something they don't understand out of fear, and in this case that fear is that they might like what the "nerds" are into.

So just like with almost everything in life, we are just thinking with the wrong head.

Yeah, you're not saying anything most of us haven't figured out on some level. Most people are nerds for something, it's just that comics, sci-fi, video games, anime and whatnot get replaced with sports, clothes, clebrity gossip, reality television, and the dreaded soap opera. That when I first realized this paradox: I'm a nerd for knowing years of comic history, but no one looked twice at that co-worker that could run off 20 years of Coronation Street. Hearing that buying all those books was a waste of money from the person that had shoe they've never worn. Ot that midnight showing of Star Wars movies was somehow wrong from someone that camped oernight for Britney Spears tickets. Anime? Aren't the Simpsons, South Park and Pixar movies also cartoons? And should I point out you've logged more WoW and facebook time than I have?

I'm not sure why this is beyond the fact that as a culture we generally not smart enough to question cultural norms and are too afraid of the negetive sigma of nerdom not to rationalize the more nerdy behaviour as acceptable (sports are real so it's not as bad). Some of it I think is nerd culture itself can be a barrier while things like sports are more, shall we say, noob and casual friendly. They seem to take anyone regardless of knowledge level or effort put in, while in most nerd hobbies, you are expected to maintain a level of knowledge and skill, and effort to attain more knowledge and skill.

Yay! I have a new phrase: "Sports nerd!"

I think the problem is a combo of tradition and team association (tribalism?). "Sports nerds" have been so dedicated and popular for so long that they ceased to be anything worthy of special labeling. Oh that's a butcher, oh that's a postman, oh that's a sportsfan in his jersey...hey! wtf!?!!? that dude looks so weird in his Star Trek costume! I can't help staring. I agree with your tentative definition of a nerd as a die-hard fan with a math addiction. Said person's activities become in-depth and arduous which creates a huge accessibility barrier. Oddly enough, most people aren't looking for more complexity in their life. In essence, nerdiness is something unpopular that people still do and enjoy. So give it a bit more time and two things will happen: the genres we identify as nerdy now will become rote and humdrum while something new comes up to supplant them in nerdiness.

Yeah I've been making this point for years but I still have sports obsessed friends who say 'whatever man its not the same' haha. Obsessing over anything is nerdy no matter what it is.

Thank you for being the voice of reason on this topic! I have thought this way for some time. Nice to know I'm not the only one.

I didn't read the whole thread, but I read the first and last pages and let me just make one point that seems to elude the lot of you.

Sports are real. The stadiums are real. The teams are real.

Star Trek is fiction. The ship is fictional. The crew is fictional.

So when someone throws on a Brady jersey, call it a costume if you want, they're still dressing up as a real person. When someone throws on a Star Trek costume they are establishing themselves as being invested in a fictional universe. Captain Picard doesn't exist, Patrick Stewart does.

How the hell that escaped everyone else I can't explain except that they don't want to recognize it.

And to all the people who get off on yelling that sports fans that refer to their team as "us" or "we", most sports organizations like to encourage that kind of attitude and thought. Not, none of those fans are ever going to play for the team, but their attitude towards the team affects what the team does. A team with an involved and enthusiastic fan base will tend to have higher attendance, which leads to higher revenues, which leads to the organization spending more money on talent, which leads to a better team and better results. Because of this chain organizations want fans to feel like a part of the organization and refer to the team as a whole as "theirs".

Yes, sports nerds are nerds. As someone who loves sports I know, I call people sports nerds and have been called one on more than one occasion. But don't act like sports nerds are so similar to sci-fi/video game nerds. Real world vs. fiction world(s) makes a big difference. By your moronic logic anyone who is involved with anything is just like sci-fi/video game nerds. Political activists, people who are ridiculously into music, art fanatics, etc. The difference, once again, is that all those things are real. And I just talked to my roommate about this and he said "Well comic books are real" to which I reply that the subject matter of the comic books is not real. If you want to stick by your guns that having a real medium for a fictional world is comparable to having something in the real world then that's your right but to me that doesn't add up.

TL;DR The difference between sci-fi/video game nerds and other kinds of nerds are that other kinds of nerds focus on things that are real, sci-fi/video game nerds focus on fictional universes.

EDIT: In going back and reading more responses I am simply astounded that no one thought like me and just jumped on board with this guy. What's more they go on to bash "jocks" as acting only in the interest of impressing the other sex or shunning people out of fear. Most jocks I know just don't understand why someone would invest time, money and energy into a world composed of things that do not exist. Sports are a culmination of the efforts of many coaches, players, trainers, executives, even fans. Many fictional universes are the thoughts of one or a small group of writers. To some people it doesn't make sense to spends money and get wrapped up in a world composed entirely of someone else's thoughts and stories.

laxduck:
I didn't read the whole thread, but I read the first and last pages and let me just make one point that seems to elude the lot of you.

Sports are real. The stadiums are real. The teams are real.

Star Trek is fiction. The ship is fictional. The crew is fictional.

So when someone throws on a Brady jersey, call it a costume if you want, they're still dressing up as a real person. When someone throws on a Star Trek costume they are establishing themselves as being invested in a fictional universe. Captain Picard doesn't exist, Patrick Stewart does.

How the hell that escaped everyone else I can't explain except that they don't want to recognize it.

And to all the people who get off on yelling that sports fans that refer to their team as "us" or "we", most sports organizations like to encourage that kind of attitude and thought. Not, none of those fans are ever going to play for the team, but their attitude towards the team affects what the team does. A team with an involved and enthusiastic fan base will tend to have higher attendance, which leads to higher revenues, which leads to the organization spending more money on talent, which leads to a better team and better results. Because of this chain organizations want fans to feel like a part of the organization and refer to the team as a whole as "theirs".

Yes, sports nerds are nerds. As someone who loves sports I know, I call people sports nerds and have been called one on more than one occasion. But don't act like sports nerds are so similar to sci-fi/video game nerds. Real world vs. fiction world(s) makes a big difference. By your moronic logic anyone who is involved with anything is just like sci-fi/video game nerds. Political activists, people who are ridiculously into music, art fanatics, etc. The difference, once again, is that all those things are real. And I just talked to my roommate about this and he said "Well comic books are real" to which I reply that the subject matter of the comic books is not real. If you want to stick by your guns that having a real medium for a fictional world is comparable to having something in the real world then that's your right but to me that doesn't add up.

TL;DR The difference between sci-fi/video game nerds and other kinds of nerds are that other kinds of nerds focus on things that are real, sci-fi/video game nerds focus on fictional universes.

And what's so significant about that? One takes imagination and one requires you to sit on your ass and watch games? Either way, you're not really doing anything except following something, so it's not like revering something real is particularly better.

Hairetos:
And what's so significant about that? One takes imagination and one requires you to sit on your ass and watch games? Either way, you're not really doing anything except following something, so it's not like revering something real is particularly better.

To me there is a difference in something being real. The fact that it actually exists means something. The fact that a fictional universe is not real means something. To you that does not mean anything. You have the right to that opinion. But the fact of the matter is that it is still a difference. The fact one is real and one is not is a difference between the two. I can place value in that difference, thereby explaining my belief in the difference between the two.

That being said I think one factor is that comic fans get events dictated to them by a creator who control things at his whim. Sports results come from conflict between multiple players and coaches competing. The uncertainty is real and the victor is determined on an even field of play as opposed to fictional universes in which the victor is determined by a creator in his mind, which holds whatever biases and preference he or she has.

To answer the question: human nature is petty and pathetic, so when one group is persecuted (like sports fans are), the take it out by picking on somebody physically and or mentally weaker than they are (like so called nerds tend to be in former as compared to sports fans and jocks). The problem is that this is a vicious cycle where only a few elites (not sports fans and nerds) win everything.

I should also say thanks Bob, this video has inspired me to treat clearly defined fandome roles (like their being such thing as a nerd, geek, sports fan, jock, ect.) the same way I treat the idea of clearly defined gender roles: as something ugly and evil allowed to come into existence before we could know better and a crime to perpetuate.

I run cross country and like to play/talk lot about video games and watch/talk a lot about some anime; what of it?

To answer the question: human nature is petty and pathetic, so when one group is persecuted (like sports fans are), the take it out by picking on somebody physically and or mentally weaker than they are (like so called nerds tend to be in former as compared to sports fans and jocks). The problem is that this is a vicious cycle where only a few elites (not sports fans and nerds) win everything.

I should also say thanks Bob, this video has inspired me to treat clearly defined fandome roles (like their being such thing as a nerd, geek, sports fan, jock, ect.) the same way I treat the idea of clearly defined gender roles: as something ugly and evil allowed to come into existence before we could know better and a crime to perpetuate.

I run cross country and like to play/talk lot about video games and watch/talk a lot about some anime; what of it?

I am currently living in NYC and I find your parallel between Twi-hards and Yankees fans to be strangely appropriate and probably the funniest thing you've ever mentioned. Thanks for that, Bob.

wow a lot of talk about jocks bullying nerds. Bad childhood memories fellas?
seriously that was a strangely well planned and executed parallel.
You are totally awesome.

I love how it started with "why are we all grouped together like this"
and ends in "we should have these groups come together under the same type of name"

(I understand that neither of these may have been intentional)

Yeah I'm Australian and don't get most of those comparisons for example:
Whats the connection between Yankees and twilight, Miracle on ice and why is Babe Route such a familiar sounding name?
Anyway I really don't feel that comparing Halo with Madden is accurate. I'm not even a fanboy. But i do like the games.

I love this! Great video with great points made! Great explanation and execution! Sharing this with friends as soon as they're awake!
That last line was hilarious. Also, I'm glad Twi-hards are equal to yankees fans.
Because nobody likes the Yankees.
NOBODY.

Haters Gunna Hate

pretty much sums up all episodes of the big picture

The key difference is that in high school, sports fans were generally able to beat up the nerds, hence they dictated the social structure (I'm not saying it's fair, just calling it like it is). This carried on through college and then by means of social inertia, into adulthood. Granted, this is a broad generalization, but I belive it's one of the main things here.

Secondly, while a cohesive nerd culture as such is a fairly young concept, people have been organized sports fans since the dawn of time. Hence, it is more firmly entrenched into the cultural structure. In the last decade, nerds have been gaining acceptance, even in my backwater country. Heck, I see school bullies discussing their WoW characters on the bus while picking on some scrawny kid. Give it a generation or two and nerdhood will be catching up to sports fandom.

But a great show this week, keep it up Bob! :)

Well to state the obvious. The difference between sports nerds and "regular nerds" is the lack of physical prowess needed to be good at sports. I don't really think that the subject ultimately needs to be broken down or analyzed though, because in the end these two subcultures really don't matter. In fact culture as a whole really doesn't matter. It causes a lot of the problems in the world today.

*wrong account again, disregard*

I used to work at a warehouse where fantasy football was the "official" pastime of the company. The saddest part is that they all tried to hide their guilt by labeling it off as "gambling", something that's legal where I'm from.

Then I found out that my eldest nephew is really into fantasy football, so I decided to ask him what the hell is up with this new "fantasy football" thing. I figured I'd get a more reasonable answer from him, considering him and I grew up with fucking professional wrestling, and the answer I got from him was... well, he tried to make it sound like it was gambling.

So what is it? People on the internet make it out to be the "'jocks' version of pen-and-paper games", but it seems like some sort of Athlete Keno.

Ok nicely said, I love my sport, mainly AFL which is Australian Rules Football, but I also love my Nerd culture, a lot on both counts. So much that I picked that photo of Sports Radio, as Bill Brownless, Gary Lyon and Tim Watson, 3 ex AFL stars, and now sport commentators. But I also sat down with a friend and totally picked apart last season Doctor Who. To the point that I think that the Dream Lord was the Valeyard, and that because Amy recreated the universe and brought everything back into existence she also inadvertently brought back the Valeyard. And Bam next years storyline. And I do find it easy to balance both. But I have friends from both worlds that could never and will never get along just cause there is some deep seated hate or mistrust or something, but I do see nerd culture getting more and more mainstream and maybe that is all we can wish or hope for.

Jock v Nerd >.<

Sports are athletic (for the most part) therefore seen as something to aspire to, everything else in nerd culture isn't athletic (for the most part) therefore seen as a mere pass time, which devoting too much time to is frown upon.

Kinda like y Movie watchers get a pass for spending too much time watching movies while the TV watchers get the dirty look for watching too much TV. More or less the same activity but one is considered "art" appreciation and the other isn't. Art = Good, Trivia = Bad... \o.O/

I absolutely agree with the analogy tho :)

Blackdrawn:
I see a lot of your points here Bob, but you are missing one LARGE point here.

As explained in the Futurama episode "I Dated a Robot" everything humans due is in hopes of impressing the opposite sex (or sometime the same sex). Most girls are impressed by men doing or liking manly things because they feel safe and blah blah blah so on and so forth, "jocks" see this and they like it more. "Nerds" feel that if they are nice to girls they will attract someone, which is why "nerds" go nuts for seeing a hot girl in a cos-play, because is shows them that they are out there! "Jocks" pick on nerds because they feel the need to reject something they don't understand out of fear, and in this case that fear is that they might like what the "nerds" are into.

So just like with almost everything in life, we are just thinking with the wrong head.

I must politely disagree with the attraction to nerd/jock corrolation. Not all nerds are nice; I know quite a few asshole nerds. I also know kind, charming jocks. I also know women that prefer assholes, and some that prefer nice guys, and some that prefer unassociated qualities. Attraction is too complicated to put it through a Nerd/Jock test.

Also, you have a point about bullying and ignorance, but I'd say that applies to anyone. Nerds do that to each other, as do Jocks.

MobieBob, I keep my post short and just say that the reason why we don't see what you proposed on your video is that we (well US more than others country and I can assure you that) had a decade called 1980. Lots of things happened there. Especially a lot of movies with cheesy stereotypes.

HankMan:
If Yankees fans are Twi-hards(and they SOOOO are), then what are Red Sox fans?
hmmmmm...

Team Jacob.

Well played, Bob. Well played. Even though I live in a city with some of the most violent, close-minded, and downright hateful sportnerds in the States (and no it's not Philly), they still fit the same sort of mold that I do. (As an owner of several soccer jerseys, I'm also in that camp.)

Also, BIG props for tossing in Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land. That's pure cartoon gold.

except for one major difference: the sports nerd is A) probably more likely to be able to take the other nerd in a fight, and B) probably more inclined.

as with everything in the human race, it all comes down to basic violence. same with the loss of the space dream too!

its not other countries or big corporations you should be preying for to pick up the slack. its another cold war you should be preying for!

in retrospect, the cold war was probably the most awesome thing to happen for technological advancement in the modern age.

and it IS STILL defense, that provides the big share of technical advancement.

violence... can't live with it... can't live without it.

Manicotti:
I tried getting along with a sports fan of equal caliber one time. The next thing I knew, I'd been stuffed into a locker and my bum was sore.

On the upside, you did get laid

I'd say video games and superheroes are becoming more open to the mainstream. This leads to more people getting into them because well...that shit's cool. Nerds may not be getting laid but they do replace it with some bitchin pastimes.

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