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Brawns AND brains: Sports do indeed have intellectual and cultural qualities

This is a rebuttal to the column “Brawn over brains: A look at why sporting events and their fans are valued over nerdy fan groups” published this week in The Signal. To read more on this topic, click here.

To say that certain “book” or “nerd” fandoms do not garner the same amount of attention as sports fandoms is valid. However, to say that there is little intellectual value in sports constitutes a blocking error — to use volleyball terminology.

First, there is a lot of strategy that goes into running sports plays. As a sports fan, I have researched and found out that some football playbooks can be as big as any Harry Potter book. Just Google search more on the NFL’s sacred playbook.

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As far as strategy and amounts of plays run, they simply cannot be done without film study and or practice. Marc Lillibridge, a former NFL player and current writer, said it himself. Anything that we see on the court, field, pitch, etc. cannot be done without an adequate amount of studying playbooks.

Also, another thing that sports can promote is a healthy lifestyle. One study published on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ website suggested that increased participation by teenagers can reduce the risk of them becoming obese.

Let us put this debate in more of a cultural context. There is, what can be referred to as “The Big Three” of popular culture. Those three are politics, entertainment and sports.

Politics is divisive. While it is important to learn about political issues, the political spectrum has become so polarized in 2015 that being informed about important topics is playing second fiddle to loudly shouting down those on the “other side of the aisle.”

Entertainment also has its fandoms as well, which we see now more than ever through digital media. All one has to do is look at the website Fanfiction.net, a website that features fans writing their own stories that include characters of various television programs and movies.

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However, the most appreciated aspect of sports is camaraderie and it’s ability to unite communities. Look at how Atlanta responded to Georgia State’s run in the NCAA tournament.

While we may be a spread-out city in terms of its suburbs, throughout the week where the Panthers were in the NCAA tournament, Georgia State was a consistent social media trender and briefly jettisoned the area’s professional teams off the primary sections of the sports pages.

In a larger context, look at how the Saints played a part reviving a still re-energizing New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Even when its residents struggling with the renovations football provided a reason for residents of the Crescent City to be proud of where they were from.

Additionally, the idea that if one is into certain shows such as “Doctor Who” or “Sherlock,” one is automatically classified as a nerd. Personally, as a nerd myself, when someone calls me a “nerd,” I take it as a term of endearment.

Here is why: The nerd-jock divide is common. It starts in middle school and is exacerbated in high school and college. The jocks may be the ones that play for the teams, but the nerds eventually become the ones that own the teams.

Also mentioned is why kids would rather be Tom Brady than Steve Jobs. Firstly, Brady is not only a superstar quarterback, but he has a supermodel wife, so he’s seen as the ultimate “man’s man” (not that it makes it right to be considered a male icon just because one is married to someone who is a sexual fantasy among men).

Secondly, as much as we do remember Jobs for leading Apple to what it has become, he also was somewhat of a jerk. He once was so upset at a five-star hotel room in London he stayed at that he simply moved out.

To the point of the original column, as a society do we sometimes place physical prowess over intellectual ability? We unfortunately do. On the issue of sports, and on the subject of living in a patriarchal society, we lionize the exploits of male athletes much more so than than female athletes.

The true issue should be not whether we value sports culture over more “intellectual” forms of entertainment, but why female athletes nearly never get the same recognition for their achievements that men do.

Is there a place for sports in society? Yes. Is there a place for “nerd” culture? Absolutely. Are we living in a patriarchal society? Unfortunately. Rather than bickering about which is better, it’s truly the latter which we must change.

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