My Twitter feed exploded with all sorts of nerdiness last night. Tweet after tweet cascaded down my screen, each containing names, numbers and postulations; and every once in a while I’d see a little argument sprout up between Twitter avatars, with one challenging the hypothesis of the other. And what was the cause of all this chatter? Was it the discovery of a new planet in our solar system? Or that dark matter was in fact, the cream filling of a Hostess Twinkie?
No, the thing what was getting all these nerds worked up and spouting facts and opinions in 140 characters or less was…
...the NFL Draft.
Now if you’re scratching your head at my characterization of NFL fans as nerds, I’m going to ask you to consider this: when it comes to obsessing over something, to the point where you immerse yourself in minutia like how fast a particular player ran the 40-yard dash, or how many touchdowns they ran for against the SEC; I don’t see the difference between them and nerds who know what issue of Uncanny X-Men that Gambit first appeared in, or what kind of photography equipment was used to create the first lightsaber props in Star Wars.
(By the way, Gambit first appeared in Uncanny X-Men Annual #14, and the SFX geeks at George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic created the first lightsaber handles using Graflex Flash Guns.)
Just because the subject of one’s obsession is sports doesn’t make it any less nerdy than other pursuits, especially when you consider that the line between sports fan and nerd is getting blurred more and more each day. Hardcore baseball fans know about Bill James – the creator of sabermetrics – and can argue the merits (or lack thereof) of Billy Beane’s “Moneyball.” Both James and Beane espoused looking at the game in mathematical terms, breaking the sport down to the quantum level and using numbers to create a new paradigm for building successful teams. How is that any less nerdy than physics or astronomy?
And even if you’re not going to steep yourself in the science of sports, tell me where the guy who spends hours putting a draft together for his fantasy football team is any different from the CCG player who spends weeks building the perfect Magic: The Gathering deck? Sure, fantasy football leagues come with payouts at the end of the season, but top-level CCG players can also win money at organized tourneys.
The nature of fandom is getting more homogenized too. Marketing of UFC has taken on the sheen of the WWE, cross-pollinating between MMA and pro-wrestling. Visit Toys R’ Us and you’ll find collectible action figures depicting heroes, both of the caped and sports variety. And can we all agree that video games like “Madden 2012” and “MLB 2K12” have given both sports geeks and gamers a place to come together on common ground?
I guess the point I’m trying to make is this: just because one has a passion for sports, it doesn’t make them any less of a nerd – or a geek if that’s the term you prefer – than those who love science, comic books, fantasy or gaming.
So, if you spent the night watching the NFL Draft and actually cared who the Bears got with the 19th pick, and found yourself arguing over whether Bears GM Phil Emery reached for a defensive player he could have gotten in the second round…welcome to Club Nerd. (You’ll find your standard issue pocket protector in the membership packet.)
And yeah, I think Emery reached as well.
ELLIOTT SERRANO IS A REDEYE SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR
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