03 November 2008

Geeks and Jocks

What an odd country America can be at times.

Anyone who has ever spent some time in the US knows that there is an neverending riff between the "geeks" and the jocks. The term "geek" is a slang term most often applied to the intelligent, science-oriented student, notably poor at sports, and socially inept. This is most apparent to those who have spent some time in the school system, where they are often the objects of ridicule. The stereotype is a shy and unobtrusive figure, scurrying from class to class, avoiding tormentors.

And few things are as famous as a High School jock. These are the masters of sports. Admired by the students and staff almost to the point of worship. They have followers, often in the form of attractive girls building their inflated egos to absurd heights. Stereotypically, the good looking jock has no equal in a school. They can graduate with poor grades and even get full scholarships to play sports.

The reality, of course, is different, but not that different. Not as extreme as it once was, but for decades, there was a substantial measure of truth to the "typical" geek and jock. This made it's way though popular culture in every form. From comic books to movies, the dichotomy between these two classes is ingrained in American culture.

And this is where it gets weird.
Why would this be? Why would such rewards go to a sports player and such derision go to those who use their minds?

Well, i put my little apricot-shaped brain to work and came up with a theory.

The US is very much a religious nation. The majority of the population follow Christian based faiths and this is felt everywhere you go in America. And what does the Church typically demand of its followers? Obediance, unquestioned faith, work, sacrifice, and conformity by believers and non-believers alike.

Exactly like sports.
To be any good at any sport, you must work hard. You have to follow a strict set of rules; violation will result in failure, which is not tolerated. You will trust your coach or team captain to tell you what to do, and you'll do it. Even sacrifice yourself for the team if necessary. In the past, there were even standards of appearence and behaviour when off the field. Conformity at all times. Conform, work hard, have faith in your coach and team and your reward starts with the glory of your peers.

Sports is a living, breathing metaphor of Christanity. No wonder it resonated so well with the people. They knew this tune and knew it well.

And the geeks, of course, represent everything the Church hates. Individuals, freethinking people who ask questions. Imagination and intellect are the antethesis of religion. These are the people who make the world progress, who make our lives better. But when young, they have to fight to get to where they want to go. Ultimately, they can work to change the world yet their names are unknown.

I think our priorities are backwards.

Everyone seems to know the name of the great sports stars. But can you name the inventor of the transistor?

1 comment:

Genevieve said...

Wow. Sports worship the result of a Christian nation? Very, very interesting.