Geek And The Zen Lack Of Sport Interest by GF Willmetts (article).

When my colleague, John Rivers, declared he had an interest in sport as well as our genre, I think he was more surprised by the fact that I told him he was in a small minority. It’ll be interesting to see how many of you would agree with me by answering the poll, which I’ll also link below here as well. Putting a mark in the poll either way won’t hurt you and it’s all to do with public interest as I’m sure you would like to know where you lie in the community. I’m sure there’s a small number of you who have an interest in SF and sport but you’re vastly outnumbered by those of us who find it, well…boring and find something better to do with our media time. Read books, watch television or films or ever scout the Internet for Science Fiction and its grey cousin interest. Anything but sport!

The Transporter TV series
Just driving!

In some respects John answered his own question, with a little help from me, that the geeks amongst us were lousy at sport at school and then steered away from it. This obviously intensifies the shift but we were already geeks and not turned that way by lack of sporting skill. We just found something more interesting to do with our time. It’s intellect versus physicality and most of us are in the former. No one can do everything, so we have our own niche. Back when I was young, we were lucky if there was one geek per school, not per class. Over the years, SF has become more acceptable and I suspect that number has gone up as it’s no longer a closet thing, so there’s more of us per unit number and hopefully, less of a problem of being bullied for our interest that made us stand out as targets.

One of the things that separates us geeky sort from other people is that we tend to be very individualistic non-conformists. Essentially, we aren’t really team game players. Quite where that puts people who play role playing games, I’ll leave you to ponder. I suspect that there’s a quasi-area where some are capable of mingling for a while and demonstrate competitive spirit but then purest RPGers tend to view themselves as a mostly separate community and find us equally odd anyway.

Sport relies on a level of conformity and people who like to watch than doing something more constructive with their time. This doesn’t mean that people like us don’t have our own downtime. We wouldn’t watch any films or TV series if that wasn’t so. It’s more a matter of why watch endless games of people running up and down a field and occasionally getting a ball in a net or over a line, if you live in America? How many ways can it be done before it gets repetitive?

Think of how many games and types of sport involve those actions. Tedium with a capital ‘T’. It doesn’t inspire the intellect nor does it appear to have any progress because they do it all over for months on end, have a short break and then start all over again. It sounds like repetitive sports injury myself. There’s never likely to be an absolute end, short of an apocalypse. Forgetting the team and game sports, what’s left is all about physical activity not intellect. What are game tactics? Get the ball in your opponent’s goal and try not to get a home goal. Be still my beating hearts with all the excitement as I’d rather watch grass grow or paint dry or an alien invasion.

From the little I’ve seen recently, most of these games avoid close contact and kick the ball at a distance to other members of their team. Even my next door neighbour, who likes football, thinks teams aren’t doing enough. Let’s not even go into how much it costs to support your team in terms of tickets and merchandise. Actually, I will on one point. Any clothes associated to our genre is infinitely cheaper than a sports fan’s official football shirt. I’m glad such deals aren’t with our merchandise. Never have I seen so much abuse of a sport’s followers than with that.

Very occasionally, I get the tail-end of the sports commentators while waiting for the news. Whatever they say will never change the results. Any of you old enough to remember the 1970 World Cup? England lost and for the next ninety minutes or so there was a lament by the commentators and experts and all other programmes on the BBC, including a certain ‘Star Trek’ episode, got cancelled. It wasn’t as though what they had to say was particularly interesting and it certainly wouldn’t change the result. It just made them look like poor losers. Do you think they would have shortened the conversation had they won? Probably so they could pop off to the boozer. It wasn’t difficult to pin-point my absolute disillusionment that people were taking things far too seriously over a kick around.

Even amongst the regular population, sport only occupies a third of the population yet the other two-thirds of the population are given short rift in the television schedules while it goes on. This summer, I’ve had my TV turned off for lot longer periods because of not having much choice to choose from. I’m not saying those interested in sport shouldn’t be allowed to watch it but with digital, even the BBC can put it on one of their other channels rather than the main ones all the time.

It’s also all physical. There aren’t an intellectual sports. As I’m seen as intellectual, as indeed are most of you people reading here, what kinds of intellectual sports are out there for us on a scale like the Olympics, let alone televised? Mind you, I doubt if I’d be that keen on watching a chess or a scrabble championship all day long. I’m not a spectator but a doer. It does point out that there is nothing there for the intellect other than the more serious quiz shows. Well, unless you include the likes of books and mental gymnastics but these are rarely shared nor can they be used for competition. After all, most intellectual games are there for the person to compete against him or herself rather than against others. Who else can beat yourself other than yourself? Mental challenges stretch ourselves. Some might get off getting the better of someone else but in the end it’s less than satisfying. Mind you, people tend to want to be me although I doubt if you’d really want to live my life.

The attraction of Science Fiction is largely because it stimulates the intellect and makes us think in multiple directions at the same time or is that only me? A lot in my case considering the number of articles and stories I’ve written over the years. What else can compete with that? The world wouldn’t end if sports ended tomorrow. Look at the number of post-apocalypse stories out there in all mediums, other than the odd duel to the death, team sport is largely forgotten. It’s not a requirement of survival.

People put far too much dramatics into how much they care about their sports but it’s all armchair critics. Other than not watching or attending, any comments they make isn’t likely to change anything. It’s a game without any real control outside of anyone who finances it. As we’ve seen with television SF, fan efforts have kept shows going. Not once or twice but many times now in America. I wouldn’t be at all surprised the next time an eminent cancelation is announced, the Net voting will come into effect and have world-wide support. It’s bound to happen sooner or later and the studios won’t know what hit them.

Before any of you who also enjoy sports point out examples contrary to above, there will always be exceptions to the rule, but they pale compared to the majority.

So am I right or not. Contribute to the poll below and let’s find out.

You’ll also notice that I at no time insulted anyone for choosing sport as a hobby, just that there’s so much more out there that can be entertaining and…well…interesting.

© Geoff Willmetts 2014

all rights reserved

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2 thoughts on “Geek And The Zen Lack Of Sport Interest by GF Willmetts (article).

  • I place myself firmly in John’s camp and am a sports fan as well as a sci-fi fan. I also don’t think I know anyone who is a sci-fi/fantasy/comics fan but not into at least one form of sport.

    Following a team or watching a sport can help develop a camadarie amongst people not unlike the one created by a mutual love of sci-fi. I’ve had nothing but good experiences when following sport and it’s helped me become closer with some family members.

    If someone just doesn’t get sports or isn’t interested in it, that’s fine and their right. But I don’t think it’s fair to generalise and dismiss sport. It’s only a couple of steps away from bullying in my opinion.

    Anything (within reason) that brings pleasure to someone should be respected and their enthusiasm for it be encouraged.

  • Well, Aidan, you know one person.
    The closest I’ve got is Grand Prix but its hardly a religion.


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