Classic stereotypes put the geeks and athletes into two different camps; never the twain shall meet. The division has long been set - immortalized in 'Revenge of the Nerds.' The Tri-Lambs with their awkward fashion sense, coke bottle glasses, and pocket protectors, ostracized and oppressed by the Alpha Betas clad in their letterman jackets.
These are the social rules: nerds are nerds and jocks are jocks. The geeks enjoy math and science and art while the popular kids play basketball and football.
Of course, those rules only exist in the David and Goliath stories of pop-culture. Movies like 'Rushmore,' 'Bad News Bears,' and 'Little Miss Sunshine' remind us what it is like to be young and awkward while giving us an underdog to celebrate.
While books and movies maintain a solid separation between the nerds and the jocks, the lines in real life are not so clearly defined. Shelves across America are lined with both comic books and athletic trophies.
However, stereotypes exist for a reason. They all started somewhere. Frequently, it is a truth exaggerated. The typecasting for the geek world and the sports world are recognizable in personal experience.
If you look back into your teen years, it is probably a safe bet to assume that your high school drama club was not populated by the most athletic students in school. In fact, the majority of them were probably on the lower end of the athletically capable spectrum. Conversations you overheard in locker rooms and along sidelines probably did not include topics of time travel, parallel universes, or interstellar exploration. The captains of your chess club and swim teams were most likely two different people.
Two worlds. On the surface, they are diametrically opposed. But looks can be deceiving and those worlds frequently collide.
One of the kids from my old school is a fine example of the person of both nerdy and sporty interests (I shouldn't call him a kid, we're both in our mid 30s now and he's a few months older than me). When we were students at MPHS, he was the lead actor in every theatrical production - a leader in our drama club. Even today, he is one of the most talented actors I've ever met. He recently founded The Rogues Gallery, a non-profit theater company in Seattle that produces plays with geeky themes. Their debut event was a live reading of "William Shakespeare's Star Wars" with a full cast. When I see Facebook posts from him, he frequently writes about superheroes, D&D, Cthulhu, board games, and the activities of a working actor.
Friends like him make me proud to be a nerd.
He is more than a saint of geek culture. He digs Seattle sports. Like me, he is a 12th Man and a long-suffering Mariners fan. He has provided some interesting insights into Seattleite baseball and football; sometimes of intellectual purpose and others just humorous. Regardless of content, these Facebook updates from a former classmate made this past NFL season much more enjoyable and he is all ready off to a good start with the MLB.
Being a nerd that loves sports (or at least a fandom for local teams) is a counter-cultural exercise. It defies the stereotype. We're the exception to the rule. Sometimes it feels like we have to explain our justification to why we're watching ESPN instead of SyFy. Or our rationale for obsessing over an athletic competition in the same manner we would the newest movie in the MCU franchise.
We all have our reasons. I cannot explain why my old friend is a sporty nerd, but I can identify why I am that way. Having grown up as the artsy kid in a sports-centric family helped contribute to my dual obsession. Perhaps that is too shallow an explanation. Family origin is a factor, but if that was the only influence, I could live a happy life without watching a single minute of gameplay. My interest in sports is truly a geeky endeavor.
I am a numbers guy. Facts, figures, data, statistics, charts, and graphs. It is all endlessly fascinating. The personalities do not attract me as much as how they translate into a trend-line. I can geek out over team rankings or stat leaders or score predictions or win/loss probability.
That is how this geek reconciles my enjoyment of sports. But I am not the voice of nerds everywhere. Your mileage may vary.