I grew up in a town that really valued its athletes. Okay, so it wasn’t all Friday Night Lights and stuff. It wasn’t Texas. But still, it was stereotypically lame in that jocks/athletes were the cool kids and the real studious academics were, well, they were nerds. Teachers were notoriously pressured to give star athletes passing grads so they could still play in the big game. You know, crap like that.
I hate that. I hate that athletics are the cool thing to do and joining up with the audio visual club is a role Anthony Michael hall perfected in all the excellent 80’s romantic comedies.
You won’t catch me urging my son to try out for the football team. Screw that. In fact, that scares the hell out of me. What with all the head and neck injuries and kids dying on fields from over-exertion. Ain’t but a precious few kids making a career out of football, anyway.
So, while I hope my son/daughter enjoy sports, and even excel at them if that’s their thing, I’m much more concerned with their brainier endeavors. Which is why I really enjoyed LZ Granderson’s piece on CNN.com called Why I’m Raising My Son To Be A Nerd. I couldn’t agree with Granderson more.
While Granderson says he cheers his son on during soccer games, it’s the A’s his boy brings home that are really cause for celebration. While he’s elated that his son is a record-breaking track star he hopes his boy gets a scholarship based on his athletic prowess, even though everyone is quick to point out his son’s potential to earn a college scholarship based on sports. Which, as Granderson says, is a “shame considering he has a 3.86 in an international baccalaureate program, studies Chinese, currently is in debate camp and has wanted to go to Stanford since the fifth grade.”
In short, as good as he is in sports, I’m not raising him with the hopes of him being a jock. I’m raising him to be a nerd.
And I couldn’t be happier.
And by happier, I don’t mean the lukewarm “well, at least he’s not selling drugs” kind, but the same genuine thrill I used to reserve only for the trophy ceremony at the end of tournaments.
Jocks go on to play for your favorite team but nerds go on to own the teams for which those jocks play.
I know it’s hard to find a job in this economy.
But I also know that at the beginning of the year, Google gave its employees a $1,000 bonus and a 10% raise because it kept losing its brightest employees to competitors, so somebody’s hiring.
And it looks as if they’re hiring nerds.
Babble’s Meredith Carroll agrees. In a recent article, Looking To Tina Fey For How To Raise A Nerd, she talks about how Tina Fey spent her childhood as kind of a geeky gal with brains to spare and look how she turned out. It mirrors Carroll’s experience with the “nerds” she grew up with:
When I look back now on the kids I grew up with, it seems like it’s some of the nerdiest ones who’ve had the most success and, more importantly, happiness in their lives. The kids who were unconcerned with sitting near the prettiest girls or the most athletic guys have had the time space to pursue and achieve things of greater value.
Overall, I think way too much emphasis is placed on athletics. We laud the football stars, the homerun hitters, and the kids kicking ass in computer class are virtually ignored. It’s all set up wrong, but there’s nothing to do about it but teach your kids that high school is but a drop in the bucket, but what you do there helps get your life on track for bigger and better things. And nobody wants to spend the rest of life reliving the “glory days” of high school because, oh my God, if the best days of my life were high school I might as well pack it in now.
If your kid’s a little weird, don’t worry — a strange childhood could be great for him later on.