144: Bridges to the Middle

Bridges to the Middle

"Very few of us can be barbarian warriors or all-star power forwards - I personally want to be an all-star barbarian power forward warrior - but we can all enjoy being a part of something. Gaming and sports engage the mind and imagination and allow us to partake in a communal experience, whether it's through your guild membership or the logo on your shirt."

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Congratulations on your marriage, Bryan Brown, and on having both athletic friends and geek friends. I suspect that from far enough outside these groups, the differentiations that seem so distinct to us are scarcely a blur. From high enough up and with all of time in sight, an all-star barbarian warrior would seem a plausible thing. Maybe there's been one. Maybe it is you.

Thank you Professor!

I think you are exactly right. It is all to easy to hyper-focus on minutia when underneath all that we are just humans with similar (if not identical) needs and desires. For creatures whose brains are so good at recognizing patterns it's ironic that sometimes we get hung up on the differences.

I can relate to this. I've been a dedicated player of softball, basketball, hockey, tennis, rowing, rugby, touch rugby and more besides - and I was always on the bottom rung, the guy who (if only metaphorically) got the Sportsmanship Award, or the Coach's Award. I'd join a team, play and train diligently every week, watch everyone else gradually improve until I couldn't justify being so much worse than them any more, and then quit. It's heartbreaking. I've spent more time on park benches than most homeless people.

In the past two years I've let sports slip away from me, because it's just too frustrating to do something over and over again without making any headway. And I hate it, and I can see a long list of friends whom I've drifted away from just because I couldn't keep letting them show me up on a football field every week without growing to resent them, but I don't see any way around it.

The sad part is, while I'm forced to identify more as a geek than a jock, I actually tend to like sporty people better in many ways. Fate's a bitch.

In my current tabletop gaming group, those who have no interest in sports are the exception. Two of us are avid Red Sox fans and the early chatter around the gaming table is often baseball- or other sport-related.

The thing I don't understand is the weird misconceptions of my hipster friends. When I told them I was going to play D&D, the reaction was like I was showing plague pustules on my face. How can supposedly liberal-minded cosmopolitan New Yorkers be so naive?

To be honest, Greg, the group of people I know who play D&D are the very embodiment of the basement-nerd stereotype, and the people in the tabletop/roleplaying game association at my university are even worse; I didn't think people like that really existed outside of bad cartoons. Maybe it's a self-selection thing - the stereotype is so ingrained now that people with good social instincts avoid those hobbies the way you'd avoid eating tasty poison - but in a lot of cases the stereotype seems to ring true.

 

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