It’s interesting to me how sports culture and cosplay/geek culture have always been portrayed to be diametrically opposed to each other by popular culture. If you’re a sports fan, you’re automatically expected to not like comics, anime, and video games (unless they have John Madden on them).
For example, how many times has the sports guy/cheerleader with a secret hobby that might be considered nerdy been a plot device in the media?
The reverse is also true. Pop culture says a guy who is into hobbies that can be described as nerdy can’t possibly be a sports fan. There’s no good reason why though.
This artificial division between interests has caused some divisions among friends and families. Many fathers more inclined to sports often feel mystified by their child’s talk of Jedi, superheroes, and anything related to the cultural exports of Japan.
This confusion can skyrocket when the word “cosplay” is uttered. In the worst case scenario, parents go out of their way to “fix” their child. This isn’t limited to kids and parents though. Adults who feel more at home in the ComicCon scene can feel lost in an office water cooler discussion over BCS rankings.
Why do people think these two interests are mutually exclusive? Both sports fans have a lot more in common than culture would lead people to believe.
At the heart of many so-called geek hobbies is math and statistics. They may take the form of the stats of a tabletop game character, video game monster information, or the necessary measurements for a scale model of the Starship Enterprise.
What else has a lot of statistics and math? Sports!
ERA’s batting averages, average points per game, these things are all math and statistics just like any character statistic.
If math and stats are the heart of these hobbies, crazy lore is the skeleton. Some of the sports legends are weirder and occasionally even more nonsensical than anything you might read in a comic book. I include the Spiderman Clone Saga in that statement. The legendary “10 Cent Beer Night” in Cleveland sounds like something out of a fantasy novel when you think about it.
Selling mass amounts of alcohol for pocket change at a baseball game doesn’t seem like something a person operating in their right mind would actually consider doing for obvious reasons.
Yet, it happened and much like the Clone Saga, everyone in charge ended up regretting it. There are also legendary curses like the Curse of the Billy Goat on the Chicago Cubs. When you get to the various college football teams, even the ones that are low ranked, you’d find a tapestry of lore that only the most hardcore sports fans know. It’s not much different from comics, video game, or anime trivia.
People on both sides criticize each other for their perceived strange habits even though they really aren’t that different. Is rushing to the computer to get the best players on a Fantasy Football team drafted really that much different from a midnight raid in World of Warcraft?
Is a man cave full of obscure sports memorabilia any different from a man cave full of fake swords from an anime? Not really. Is the guy at a November tailgate party shirtless in body paint any different from the guy dressed as Goku?
No. Heck, anyone going out shirtless in the average cold November is the most committed fan of anything.
The point is that we should get along. If you’re a parent who has learned that your kid is more interested in which Starfleet Captain is better than NFL rivalries, go with it, you might have fun. If you’re a Trekkie who has found yourself in an office full of sports fans, ask questions and dive in.
At the end of the day, we’re all friends who share a love of stats, crazy legends, and occasionally, an overabundance of alcohol.