Picture your quintessential high school movie, where geeks – the underdogs – are pitted against a team of jocks. Perhaps surprisingly, movies that enact this trope usually result in some kind of common understanding, whether through passion or circumstances. From the band of misfits who make up The Breakfast Club to the slightly more unorthodox meeting of theatrics and basketball in High School Musical, stories of finding common ground between geeks and jocks are common in fiction.
But can the same be true for reality?
What We All Have in Common
Let’s be honest – insults from one side or the other are unproductive at best and damaging at worst. How can we meet in the middle? Check out these surprising ways nerds and sports fans are more alike than not.
- A Love of High Quality Merchandise. Other types of fans don’t parade around wearing rom-com t-shirts. But take a look at your closet. Do you have a geeky shirt with your favorite Marvel superhero or video game character? Sports fans also like to rep their favorite “characters” – or, in their case, players, with replica jerseys displaying their player number and last name.Also, let’s not ignore one simple fact: Nerds and jocks have to have the newest and best equipment. Whether it’s a $900 virtual reality headset or the highest quality lacrosse shaft available, both groups are always paying attention to trends related to their passions.
- Obsessive Attention to Data. This is probably the category where geeks and jocks have the most potential for camaraderie – if only because there are already big groups of people who relish in the crossover. For example, Bill James – a computer scientist – was one of the key figures who recently helped introduce better data analysis practice into the NBA. MIT now hosts its annual Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, where the nerdiest of sports fans work together to develop new ways of looking at sports data. In one example, while baseball has long been a pioneer in reliable data, technicians are now working toward finding ways to measure similar analytics for college football.
- Cosplay. Head to any geek convention and you’ll see tons of fans decked out in their best character wear, with hand-styled wigs and intricately sewn costumes designed with great precision. Sports fanatics don’t call it the same thing, but let’s be real – when a $100 jersey isn’t enough, they go for the face paint, color-coded outfits, crazy masks, spiked helmets, and more. Now, how is that any different from cosplay?
When All Else Fails, Try a Nerdier Sport
If you still feel like there’s no way to reconcile, maybe it’s time to step into the jocks’ shoes. That kid in E.T. played both football and D&D – but that was fiction, right? Well, if football is out of your league (so to speak), try a nerdier sport, like fencing, water polo or ultimate Frisbee.
If you can’t stomach the idea of running around on a field chasing after a plastic disc, there’s always DDR. Or Wii Fitness. Or if you want to get creative, watch the Olympics for ideas. Who knows? You might end up the next big name in curling.