Let’s call this one a love letter to jocks everywhere . . .

I’m a geek. I’m a nerd, too. In England they’d call me an anorak. If I were to travel to Japan I would be an otaku, I think.

The definition of all these various words have been a source of controversy, and people like me who have opted to remove them from the pejorative and wear them as a badge of honor seem to have generally won out over the jocks and bullies who may have originally coined the terms. I’m a geek and a nerd becuase I know lots more about Star Trek than I do about baseball. I’m a nerd because I am convinced, and will remain so to my dying day, that it’s better to be smart than strong. I’m a geek becuase I would rather wear my Green Lantern t-shirt than my Chicago Bears t-shirt, but, oops . . . wait a minute.

I just sent around an email to my Traveller group, which meets once a month to play that venerable old SF role-playing game. This is about as geek as it gets. Not only are we playing an RPG, it’s not even Dungeons & Dragons. We’re at an even deeper level of RPG geek than that. Only if we were playing The Whispering Vault or Skyrealms of Jorune would we be dipping deeper into that pool. (And as an aside, I have both those games on my shelf so if you’re thinking of running either in the Seattle Eastside area, please let me know.) But you know what fantasy role-playing game I’m getting together with friends to play tonight?

Fantasy football.

You heard that right. And if you’ve been following me on Twitter for a while you’ll know this about me. I’m a geek who likes NFL football. I don’t really have a preference between t-shirts when it comes to Green Lantern, the Chicago Bears, H.P. Lovecraft, and the Seattle Seahawks. I can geek out on both traditional “Geek Culture” and football in equal measure.

Back before the rise of so-called “Geek Chic,” I started to notice the other flavors of geek that surrounded me. And yes, people, there are football geeks. But you know who are really the biggest geeks of all?


Though golf is widely considered by everyone but golfers to be the official game of douchebag, these 1% wannabes are the biggest geeks on earth. How many golfers do you know who wear ties with little golfers on them, have clocks hanging up in their house with little golf balls where the numbers are, hang up signs or bumper stickers that say things like I’d Rather be Golfing or My Other Car is a Golf Cart? I’ve seen more guys walk into restaurants wearing golf gloves than wearing Star Trek uniforms, and I’ve been to Gen Con eight times.

Am I a geek because I go to comic book conventions? Sure, okay. But don’t tell me you aren’t a geek if you spend your vacation time and money to play Pebble Beach, or whatever. If you do this, you are a golf geek as much as I’m an RPG geek, a Star Trek geek, or a pro football geek.

Golfers, like computer nerds and sci-fi geeks before you, it’s time to come out. It’s time to stand up and be counted. Now that business is run by people like Bill Gates, and founder of the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame Paul Allen (who is also the owner of the Seattle Seahawks, by the way), you can’t hide behind this BS that deals are made on the golf course and you’re really only playing it to get ahead in the organization. And I’m saying that as a former employee of TSR (the company that invented the role-playing game) and Wizards of the Coast (the company that invented the trading card game) where playing D&D and Magic may actually have helped me get ahead in those organizations.

Golfers, you’re going to have to admit that you golf because you love it. And unless you’re playing on the pro circuit, all the effort you’re putting in to getting better at it is as much (or, I contend, as little) a waste of time as me watching Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn for the millionth time to perfect my Ricardo Montalban accent. I’d be willing to bet that it took me less time and effort to memorize every line of that movie (and I have—ask my kids) that the average golfer has spent “perfecting” his swing.

I don’t golf, but I do geek. I get it, and it’s okay.

If all you golfers will just finally come out and join us in geekdom, we’ll embrace you. It’s what we do. If a Klingon can sit down at a table at San Diego Comicon and trade jokes with a Star Fleet officer—and I’ve seen this happen—they’ll be just as welcoming to you in your spiky shoes, yellow sweater, and striped pants. It’s all cosplay, and it’s all good.




—Philip Athans



About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, (https://fantasyhandbook.wordpress.com/) is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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4 Responses to I GEEK, YOU GEEK

  1. Sean Durity says:

    As an NFL and fantasy football geek, I have to heartily agree with this. I can’t understand the appeal of golf, but you are right that there are “golf geeks” as much as Star Trek ones. I happen to be a Bible geek, too, and proud of it.

    BTW – just finished reading your book, “The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction.” It certainly speaks to many of the questions I have as I begin my first fantasy novel. I am glad to have discovered it and your blog. I hope to be hitting the fantasy and writing conferences when it is closer to completion.

  2. Can’t see me playing anything football, but we do have family Dungeons and Dragons night, so can’t judge 😉

  3. Ah, so true, so true.

  4. Pingback: WRITE DOWN THESE THREE QUESTIONS | Fantasy Author's Handbook

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