This year is the first year I have every really gotten into a season of football, not because I harbor some kind of snobbery about sports in general (I loved me some 1990s Chicago Bulls and I am a big UFC fan) but because football was never a sport I really understood.
Pictured: Not Me
My new colleagues down here in Texas have been teaching me the game, and since they happen to be Carolina Panthers fans, we were extra excited for the Super Bowl this year, results notwithstanding.
Watching the game got me thinking about how our culture encourages us to consider sports fans and geeks/nerds to be opposite entities.
But is there really that much difference between a rabid sports fan and a Trekkie or a video game geek?
My friend Mel Stanfill works on how the practices of sports fans resemble those of cult media fans: how fandom becomes an identity for members of each group, how communities form around viewership and fannish participation.
Furthermore, the rise of moneyball-style data tracking and fantasy sports leagues is making being a sports fan more and more like, well…
I also think it is important to remember that “nerdy” pursuits, particularly video games, are getting more and more sports-like every year (just ask the League of Legends pros who are facing debilitating wrist injuries and the eSports organizations dealing with PED scandals). And Superbowl ads are now just as likely to feature the X-Men and The Avengers as they are Axe Body Spray.
Nerds and Jocks: they are closer to one another then you think!
Funny (and true) observation! I play DnD and take part in a fantasy hockey league, and the parallels are totally there. Now if only my Level 20 Paladin could join my hockey team and heal up those injured players…
I wonder if you would agree that “fan labor” is another connection point between the Trekkies (et al) and the sports fans? In my research I look a lot at the atmosphere generated in a stadium by soccer fans. Particularly the more elaborate ones are a lot of work, for which there is generally no monetary compensation. I am applying (hoping to/trying to, anyway) this perspective in my writing, but have never really seen it in Fandom studies scholarship. The volume of TWC that you edited with Mel Stanfill was very useful, BTW. Thanks!
Absolutely! Mel has done some work on sports fandom and its connections to media fandom/geek culture. And I am currently working on something about the parallels between traditional sports and professional gaming/esports.
Thanks for the reply. Looking forward to your piece.