And because I should always do this, here's is Bruce Sterling's actual description:
Web 2.0 guys: they've got their laptops with whimsical stickers, the tattoos, the startup T-shirts, the brainy-glasses -- you can tell them from the general population at a glance. They're a true creative subculture, not a counterculture exactly -- but in their number, their relationship to the population, quite like the Arts and Crafts people from a hundred years ago.
Don't forget Hadyn, if you a girl, you can't POSSIBLY like sport.
Particularly if you are a girl who likes shoes and dresses, and *gasp* boys.
I guess that golf is "sport for nerds". But bull-riding not so much.
But I play the former and love to watch the latter. Footie is just something in between those 2 extremes.
I tend to agree with your premise about how sports programming on tv is pitched at a demonimator lower than low. Even the jocks should be embarrassed.
There is a long passage in Stephen Fry's autobiography, Moab is my Washpot which gosh I am tempted to type out in its entirety, about how much he loathed games at school, yet loves sport as an adult. The jock stereotype is 'games', I think: forced sport with weird moral overtones. If your school was really into that, it takes a while to be able to really enjoy sport as an adult.
Stephen Fry tweeting about cricket is just one of those things that makes a day all sparkly-happy.
Nice post. I've walked the munter / nerd tightrope for most of my adult life, and probably fallen off on both sides at one time or another. While I enjoy geeking out / reading and writing about sport, I also LOVE getting along to matches in the flesh, drinking heavily, eating fried food and being a munter. It's fun.
I say Cricket is the number one nerdy sport, partly because of the opportunity of getting elbow deep inn statistics, and partly because through sledging etc, you can act like a tough guy with little or no chance of anyone actually clocking you.
Or there's this.
The jock stereotype is 'games', I think: forced sport with weird moral overtones. If your school was really into that, it takes a while to be able to really enjoy sport as an adult.
I loved 'games' as a teenager, despite being wretched at them (uncoordinated, unfit, and with few fast twitch muscle fibres evident). Even bitchy private school netball girls didn't diminish my love of cold canterbury mornings running round a square of concrete chasing a ball.
My moment of hating sport was in my late teens when, like an ex-smoker, I hated sport. I was all "people are dying, there's been 3 murders, and all you people care about is RUGBY????"
Clearly there's been something of a reunion since.
We'll find something else to talk about, how do you feel about Jeremy Clarkson? I hate him.
The funny thing is that Clarkson is a nerd pretending to be a jock. Dude is overcompensating.
Hell, I'm a classical history trained ex-librarian computer nerd who loves rugby and league and West Ham Utd. So obviously I can't relate to your post at all.. :)
Thank you, Hadyn.
I endure endless mocking from my partner who insists that I only watch/follow sport so I have something to talk to 'manly' men about. Who cares that I didn't really follow cricket three years ago? I'm finding the SA/Australia power-struggle absorbing, check Cricinfo daily for general cricket-happenings around the world, and will pop down to the pub to catch a T20I/ODI if I have the time. I lament that the Black Caps don't seems to be able to translate their ODI success (3-1 thrashings by India aside) into the Test Arena. Except I can't, because although cricket is apparently a geeks game, I'm not allowed to like it because I'm too geeky. Or not geeky enough. God, I don't know.
Likewise, I've enjoyed rugby for longer than I've been with my partner (bless her) but she still doesn't believe that I actually like it, because I never played in highschool (Height: 6'2". Weight when fit: 80kg. A fair bit lighter in school. Not optimal for contact sport.) - and she holds the same view of my interest in League (Is it just me, or is the NRL beautiful? Wooden-spooners the Bulldogs beating runaway Premiers Manly in the opening round? Perfect! So much better than the tripe the Super 14 is dishing up at the moment). Additionally, because I've never played Union, apparently I'm not qualified to discuss the breakdown, let alone kicking tactics under the ELV's or the rush defense that we're starting to see more often - thank you Mr Gatland.
Argh. But I'm a geek that likes politics and follows the economy, so I'm not allowed to indulge in any of these things, apparently.
And don't get me started on the fucktards that decided Murray Mexted was a suitable commentator for a live Sky broadcast. I actually prefer watching the Australian broadcast whenever possible. Mexted: Great player, horrible commentator.
As far as sports writing, the jock/nerd division is maybe a false dichotomy - it may seem truer in New Zealand because while we have no shortage of slightly munter sports reporters, we don't have a great tradition of long-form sports writing in this country. Peter Malcouronne is one striking and honourable exception - his feature length work in Metro and North & South on everything from high school rugby matches to sports star profiles was exemplary stuff in the genre.
Witness any of David Foster Wallace's writing on tennis, for examples of cerebral sports writing, or David Remnick on boxing etc.
(As an aside, it seems to me that cricket writing has always been more of an exercise in critical exegesis than objective reporting - like sport's Ulysses, or something, but in a good way.)
Bleargh, feel free to substitute nerd for geek throughout my post.
Agree with Peters analysis of Clarkson. Amusing at times, but trying way too hard. Oh, and avid climate-change denier (I suspect he's not, but it's good for the ratings with munters, and lets him drive amazing cars like a dick).
I'd rather do than watch but never did anything at school 'cos the glasses got in the way. Recently I found this gem on cyclists while researching cycling etiquette...
We are very individual, and you and I are a tad selfish and poor communicators. We are indeed a bit feckin odd; it is why we didn’t go in for team sports in maturity. Odd and loners, in the animal world we are the panda (sitting on a ‘flite’ saddle for 5 hours at a time, squashing the penile tract will induce the same fertility rates). This ‘squad of one’ mindset can introduce an attitude of selfishness and arrogance. A disregard for other abilities and isolated persona. Instead these cyclists who appear at the Sunday morning spin with evil intent on mislaying the children and infirm on the first rise, proclaiming their self worth; in turn offer excuses, when they are under pressure. These weak oppressors blame the bike, the tyres, the road surface, the wind, and the tyres again, never the body. We cyclists have the personal strength not to be sheep. Never run with the herd. The intellectual power to decide, no I don’t want to kick ball or chase one for 18 holes. I want to do something extremely hard and with few rewards. So we are: Say it with me ‘ODD’. This in no way excuses these bad manners or means we have to be a numpty.
And don't get me started on the fucktards that decided Murray Mexted was a suitable commentator for a live Sky broadcast.
A few years ago I wrote a satirical piece that never saw the light of day, partially on the grounds of tastelessness. Let me share...
Sky Sport New Zealand has announced plans to review the pilot program of its new Commentator Feedback system, after a massive electrical shock caused the death of veteran rugby commentator and ex-All Black Murray Mexted.
The system was designed to make Sky's audience feel more involved with the live sport commentary the channel provides. Small hand-held devices in homes allowed viewers to deliver low-level but significant electric shocks through the seats of Sky's commentary teams, providing instant feedback.
Mexted's death immediately followed his uttering of the words "It's not a game of tiddlywinks". His fellow commentators are undergoing counselling, the shock of Mexted's death causing an almost five second silence and the discovery that the commentary box windows would not open.
Or there's this.
Lol. Those students...
I suspect another split is that jocks play the sport, particularly at the high level. Nerds run the sports, manage the leagues, promote it, run kids sports etc.
For what its worth, much of the best writing I've ever seen - fiction and non-fiction - has been about sport .... (although in some instances I am perhaps stretching the definition of 'sport')
Walter Tevis - The Hustler & Queens Gambit
Bernard Malamud - The Natural
Nick Hornby - Fever Pitch
Donald McRae - Dark Trade & In Black and White
Norman Mailer - The Fight
Laura Hillenbrand - Seabiscuit
Jon Krakeur - Into Thin Air
Gary Imlach - My Father and Other Working Class Football Heroes
Nerds have always had the last laugh in sports - they write the history. While sports writing in New Zealand has almost always been of the jock match-report variety, overseas there are some masterful depictions of beautiful games by outright nerds.
Ben Thomas mentioned David Foster Wallace. Check out his ode to Roger Federer - an adaptation of the lovingly-titled Roger Federer as Religious Experience: How One Player's Grace, Speed, Power, Precision, Kinesthetic Virtuosity and Seriously Wicked Topspin Are Transfiguring Men's Tennis .
Michael Lewis is also great. I'm no fan of College Football, but this piece got me interested in an eccentric coach and plays known as "shotguns", and Lewis' writing on schoolyard giant Michael Oher is compelling blend of sociology, biography and the evolution of the NFL power game.
And, dude, last years' Faulkner-winning novel was about cricket .
Hell, I'm a classical history trained ex-librarian computer nerd who loves rugby and league and West Ham Utd.
What?! I thought I was the only one of those. Oh wait. West Ham?
Richard: You can't have been reading Granny online yesterday, which had this gem:
Rugby: Heyman staying put
World-class prop Carl Hayman says he won't return to New Zealand early and will see out his contract with English club Newcastle until May next year.
Of course, we all know that Granny is a special case. I do agree that literate writers can put out some very good sporting material.
I have to 'fess up to being a fan of Murray Mexted's commentary...he adds an element of surreality to what is generally Statement Of The Obvious and many comments that are just plain wrong.
His remark about "...I've been pumping Martin Leslie for quite a while now..." reduced me to helpless laughter at the time and he is quite happy to come out with the outlandish. Better him than one-time wicketkeeper Ian Smith. (Damned by faint praise?)
One word (apparently): Chessboxing.
Oh, two words.
I've had problems both ways. I sing in the Opera Chorus, and used to sing in National Youth Choir and Voices New Zealand. I've done shows all around the country. I also play cricket, and used to play football to rep level. I've often been in conversations like:
Them: We need to have a rehearsal this Saturday
Me: I can't. I'm playing cricket.
Them: But surely you can get out of that?
Well, no, often I can't. Then they come back with the bollocks of letting the choir/production and other people in it down. I counter with the fact that there are 10 other guys in my team that need me to play. And round and round it goes. Some people just don't get it - I'm a performer who loves sports, both to play and to watch
And it has to be said that generally the sports guys have been very sympathetic. Usually the other people in the team understand when I can't be there, and are interested in what I do for a living. Since I left school no-one has called me a "poof" or anything equivalent for being involved in the arts. Some of them have even used me as a way of furthering their own interest in arts-related activities. And I'm always good for singing at their weddings!
Oh, and I've just had a thought about drinking. People talk about the drinking culture in sport. Fine - I've had many a night on the turps with my teams. But I've also had far heavier drinking sessions after shows with singers, actors and dancers.
And a lot of them are munters when they're drunk too!
What?! I thought I was the only one of those. Oh wait. West Ham?
Yeh, it's all messed up.
Every time I read Nerd and Jock in that post I heard Judah Friedlander's portrayl of Toby Radloff from American Splendor.
One word (apparently): Chessboxing.
It took me about 30 seconds into that clip before I figured out that I'd misread it as Cheese boxing.
I want to know what that looks like as well actually.