October 20, 2021

Sports and Nerd Culture: A storied past (how The Mike was born)

For centuries, jocks and nerds have been at opposite ends of the spectrum. Popular culture has shown that jocks torment, inflict pain, and seemingly hate nerds. There is even a movie series that followed this trope. But things have seen a big change since the tech boom, and it appears nerds will rule the world. And the word “nerd” is becoming almost archaic, as it’s almost become normal, whereas it used to be the alternative or “other”. My whole life has seen two main passions: sports and most things nerdy.

Despite my current physical appearance, I was once a well-versed and talented athlete. In fact, I’m still pretty talented, but I can’t really do the things I once did. But sports have been a huge part of my life even after this. Saturdays in the fall have long been filled with binge watching college football, especially the greatest university on the planet, the University of Michigan. Sundays would mean pro football, and in this state, that means wallowing in the sadness of being a Lions fan. Fall also means the end of baseball, one sport I just can’t really get to into, but will still watch and attend games, as this is how deep my addiction is to sports. Hockey dominates my fall through spring, and I have had the pleasure to grow up in Detroit, so the Red Wings are my team. And thanks to fellow Wampaslayer Kris, I have been afforded many awesome privileges, including a trip to training camp, front row seats at the Joe, and numerous playoff games.

Soccer has long been the sport that has been in my life the longest, as I played from the ages of about 4 to 21. Every 4 years, the beautiful game becomes even more beautiful as I spend my summer watching the World Cup. Spring now means lacrosse, a sport I started in high school. The popularity of the sport has been spreading since, and that means more presence on TV. The main event is championship weekend, held every Memorial Day weekend, where the 4 best teams get together and play some memorable lacrosse.

Throughout all of this, and unbeknownst to a lot of my old teammates, I have secretly (or so I think) lived a double life. One that was long considered the counter to jock culture. While many of my compatriots would go and hang out with other friends, attending parties and the like, I would tend to go over to a friend’s home and play videogames, watch cartoons, or participate in otherwise “lame” activities. But I loved doing that, and would not change a thing. Now, I know that numerous types of people have been playing videogames for years, but not many had the varied collection my brothers and I had. We had everything from Madden to Final Fantasy to Need for Speed and almost everything in between,

There was some merging of sports and nerd-ery in my formative years, namely with my high school soccer team. Most Saturdays we would have a morning practice, and afterwards, a group of us would get together, eat lunch, and then play Fifa for hours afterwards. This also would occur at team parties and the like, including our own World Cup (Qatar Champs ‘01)

My recent adult years have included the leap into pen and paper role playing games. Before this time period, which started around 6 years ago, I viewed Dungeons and Dragons and the like as too nerdy for me (funny, right?) But after playing my first character and through my first campaign, I was hooked. In fact, I’ll create characters for campaigns that are months away, and even characters that may never see the light of day. It was always surprising to others that I didn’t play tabletop RPGs, as my love RPGs in video game format was quite apparent.

So to make this long story have some sort of point, the differences between jocks and nerds, has never been as obvious at it is made to seem. I know many and more of my teammates were likely quite nerdy in some capacity, but I only knew of a few that truly were. I will continue to live this way, and impart this knowledge to my future Wampa cubs. So fear not, fellow adventurers, The Mike is here to lead the way and show you how to manage this dual nature you possess.



If it’s a thing and it’s nerdy, this guy wants to do it. Self-taught and self-proclaimed photographer, programmer, and musician, self-described as lazy, indulgent, and pedantic. Give him a task and he’ll do it, except for maritals. Only his wife gets the maritals.

Find Jason on twitter at @jasonkylesmith and on instagram at jasonksmith84

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