Why Sports Fans are Nerds

As I write this article, I am sitting in a chair in the patio outside of a rented cottage in sunny Oceanside, California. It is a perfect 79 degrees outside, with no cloud cover, and a light breeze wafts over the beach, just enough to cool you down and make you forget that you’re getting more UV radiation than you should be. The ocean is a bit chilly, but you get used to it quickly, and the cold helps you appreciate the sun all that more. To swim, to surf, to play in the sand – it is absolute bliss, and my entire family is here with me, here to enjoy the beauty of this natural, perfect sun-kissed place.

Except that my family is inside, watching tennis.

The cottage doors and windows are shut. The blinds are down. The soft lapping sounds of the waves cannot be heard over the blaring smack of Federer and Murray slamming the fuzzy green balls against the court and at each other, and my family soaks it all in with a slack-jawed fascination that I could never in my wildest dreams understand, given our current location. The reason I’m bothering to write an article about it (other than the fact that an article NEEDS to be written about it) is because I’ve realized something. What I’ve realized is that sports fans are fucking nerds.

I am quite certain that I am not the first person who has had this epiphany; granted, now that I’ve had it, it seems frightfully obvious. Let me draw the parallels for you – if you don’t believe me, allow some hypotheticals.

Hypothetical one: The “classic” nerd. The classic nerd is enamored with some element of fiction, be it fantasy/sci-fi novels or anime or even “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.” This nerd knows an OBSCENELY large amount of little facts and snippets about his favorite fiction, and most of these facts are useless and in no way enrich his experience of the fiction itself. To an outsider, these statistics are baffling and pointless, and his insistent memorization of them comes off as nothing short of obnoxious. He may play “Dungeons and Dragons” or another RPG based on his favorite fiction. He will surround himself with friends who also enjoy these proclivities and talk about them, and meet up to watch the premiere episodes or wait in line for books. He will attend conventions to meet actors or writers, and he may very well dress up in cosplay. Given the choice of a day spent basking in the sun or a day spent inside with his hobby, the nerd will always choose the hobby.

And because of this, the nerd is stigmatized. But our second hypothetical is NOT stigmatized. In fact, he fits in quite well in America, and is often a beacon of social awesomeness. Let’s compare him to the nerd, shall we?

Hypothetical two: The “classic” sports fan. The classic sports fan is enamored with some form of athletics, be it football or baseball or even tennis. This fan knows an OBSCENELY large amount of little facts and snippets about his favorite sport, and most of these facts are useless and in no way enrich his experience of the sport itself. To an outsider, these statistics are baffling and pointless, and his insistent memorization of them comes off as nothing short of obnoxious. He may play in a Fantasy League of his sport, or join a pick-up league of the sport. He will surround himself with friends who also enjoy this sport and talking about it, and meet up to watch the big game or go out to a sports bar to see it. He will attend games and matches to watch or meet players, and he may very well wear a jersey or lather himself with body paint. Given the choice of a day spent basking in the sun or a day spent inside watching sports, the sports fan will always choose the sport.

Again, I wouldn’t be surprised if this thought has crossed your mind, but look at it; they’re practically the same person. And they’re both equally annoying, to the average individual, so why does only one get bullied?

Maybe it’s because sports games only take up a couple of hours, and a rousing session of D&D can last up to five. Granted, I know that in a few moments my family will exit the cottage, take up their swimsuits and join me. But the fact remains that, for those two hours that Federer took on Murray (and won, but who cares?), they were inside, being nerds.