Jocks. Ugh. The mortal enemies of nerds since time immemorial. They pick on us and mock our love of sci-fi. They pull us from our fantasy worlds with noogies. They are bullies. And all those who associate with them—including the sports fan—must be evil too, right? But as I’ve slowly become a Seahawks fan, I’ve come to learn that the line between jock and nerd, and the supposed strife between the two, is more complicated than Revenge of the Nerds would have us believe.
During the Hawks’ march to the Super Bowl, comic-book nerds, sci-fi geeks, and gaming gurus have all come out of the woodwork declaring their love for football and the Hawks. The excitement is intense; as longtime fan Susie Rantz—a sci-fi/fantasy geek and my colleague at GeekGirlCon—notes, Seattle is tired of being underestimated and waiting our turn, and “We’re celebrating each win together, the 12th man and the team.”
Cole Lundell—video-game enthusiast, comic-book fan, and another GeekGirlCon colleague—points out that the city’s frenzy has united it and thawed the infamous “Seattle freeze”; you can talk to anyone on the street wearing Hawks gear and get a “genuine response,” which is “pretty awesome in a city where most people avoid talking to each other.” Dan Tharp, Hawks fan and customer-experience manager at Card Kingdom and Cafe Mox, remembers many customers asking that a game be turned on so they could watch while gaming (Cafe Mox no longer has TVs). Yup, these geeks are just as nerdy about football as the next fan.
Though as I talked to a few of these fans to learn more about their love of the game, I uncovered something else—the truth behind jocks, sports fans, and geeks. Turns out we are the bullies. Every single person I talked to said that at one point or another, a fellow geek had teased him or her for being into football. Curtis Chandler—Star Wars fan, comic-book collector, ex-football player, and host of the podcast Clinically Inane—recalls wearing an old football jersey to a con and getting accused of being a “fake geek.” Rantz and Lundell have similar stories: Geeks make fun of them for loving sports, while sports fans are either indifferent or share their nerdy interests.
But the two worlds mesh so well, especially in Seattle. Rantz points out that our city has some of “the most active fans on social media” as well as local “data geeks who break down” the stats, reflecting Seattle’s techie influence. The Seahawks even have their own edition of the Hulk, known as the Seahulk. And did you know that Sherman is not only the best cornerback in the league, but a huge Harry Potter nerd and video-game junkie? Yeah, just let that sink in.
And to top it off, Seahawks owner Paul Allen is the model of a nerdy hybrid—sure, he loves computers, technology, and a million other geeky things, but he’s also a huge sports fan (who also owns the Portland Trailblazers). And really, if it’s good enough for super-nerd Paul Allen, I’m thinking it’s good enough for the geeks.