Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Jocks And The Nerds

In high school, the nerd types are seen as boring and the jock types are seen as exciting. Over the long term that changes. The nerds do more by way of reading and thinking, which allows them to have all sorts of interesting things to say; whereas the jocks settle down into predictable conservative lives.

I was a nerd in school, and I've lived quite an interesting life ( So has another person who was a nerd in my class – a Korean man named Jae who has become quite a stud. Whereas the folks who were seen as cool have become fairly regular citizens; and while most of them have not had too much trouble, their lives were not nearly as interesting as mine.

Someone once talked to me about the sports games hiring mathematicians to use game theory to improve their teams' performances. I asked, “So the jocks decided to hire the nerds?” In school the jocks and the nerds tend to be at one another's throats. But there is a similarity. Both are good at something and not good at something else.

At times both learn in adulthood what they were not good at while in school. I was the shortest and weakest kid in class, but I am now in a better physical shape than most people my age, including people who had been good at sports in school. There were several students in class who were thought of as stupid, but they became quite intelligent and thoughtful people as adults. Someone who's been in Hollywood told me that the movie makers are people who could not get sex when they were in school. Similarly I have had a girlfriend who was unattractive while in school but became quite beautiful as an adult, and she stayed beautiful while the girls who had been attractive in school became fat.

I had a classmate named Chris who was a classical jock. Any number of people also saw him as a bully. In his adult life he has become a lot wiser; and he now comes across to me as a thoughtful and compassionate person. In the business world, the nerds and the jocks work together. The nerds design the product and the jocks market it. Working side by side allows the jocks and the nerds to put aside their mutual hatreds and act like members of the same team.

Chris told me that there was a lot in common between me and him, which was a surprise to me. The commonality appears to be the one stated above. Where nerds can go wrong is when they decide that what they do is important and that nothing else is. We see that attitude especially among engineers. Where jocks can go wrong is when they decide that academic intelligence is worthless, that all that matters in life is common sense and social skills, or that kids who take school seriously are arrogant know-it-all commie nerds. Each side is right to affirm the value of what it does and wrong to deny the value of the other. I have known parents who were jocks attacking their children who had bookish tendencies, and I have known parents who were nerds attacking their children who had macho tendencies. This is wrong. There is a need for both.

One thing that happens in adulthood is that one's classmates turn from competitors into brothers. The relationship changes, and people are no longer attacking each other and instead support one another. This is the case regardless of whether they were nerds of whether they were jocks. The things that were differences turn from object of hatred to object of collaboration. Sometimes the jocks and the nerds work together.

I no longer bear any ill will toward the jock types. There is in fact similarity between me and them. Any type can act like a jerk, and any type can act rightfully. There is a need both for academic intelligence and for personal intelligence. And that means both the jocks and the nerds.


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