More Gamers Should Play Sports
Today I heard a gamer talk about how he loves his hobby and that at least it does not make him stupid like “all of those dumb jocks!”
I stunned him when I said that his claim was ridiculous. That stereotype just does not hold up under scrutiny. Neil deGrasse Tyson, arguably this generation’s Carl Sagan, was a wrestler. Enrico Fermi reportedly played tennis like a mad man in order to win. There is overwhelming evidence that exercise and athletics improve the functions of the brain.
Are there “dumb” jocks? Yes, but the majority of people who play sports are either of normal or higher intelligence it seems. My problem, that I have written about before for Gnome Stew, is with this concept that all gamers are smart. That like the “dumb jock” stereotype just isn’t so.
In fact, I think that more gamers should go out and play sports. I see a lot of gamers with diseases like gout and type two diabetes. It disturbs me that this idea of sitting around chugging down Mountain Dew and beer while devouring pizza is an essential part of our hobby. Why not make a sport part of your gaming group’s routine instead?
It does not have to be a highly competitive league. It does not even have to be a popular sport. Go out and play frisbee golf, or paintball! Get some boffer weapons and have in-group tournaments! Maybe the home that you play at has a basketball net, so how about going outside and shooting hoops for an hour before starting the game?
The reason we should be doing this is because a lot of gamers need the exercise from what I see. I am not commenting on how people look, but how I have seen many a gamer lose his or her breath climbing the stairs at a convention. Every year when I attend various RPG conventions I discover that someone else that I consider a friend has been diagnosed with a disease where diet and a lack of exercise was a contributing factor. Playing some friendly sports with each other might help to turn this trend around.
Plus every life experience you have will contribute to your game in some way. You know that thrill of victory you can feel when you finally take down the big bad evil guy in your D&D game? Well that same feeling is earned when your team scores that winning touchdown or strikes out that last batter to end the game. Imagine being able to recall a physical event that left you sore and tired but victorious the next time your PC enters battle. Those real life events make the imaginary game events even sweeter.
Now I do not consider myself an athlete, but I do practice some sports. I take my kids to play basketball and practice with them, and I get my ass on my bicycle to enjoy some cycling every summer. I exercise daily, and I break a sweat whenever I can. Am I in perfect shape? No, but my doctor is happy with my physicals and I feel good. My quality of life is good in regards to my health, and that is one of the big factors with anyone’s quality of life.
There are more games out there than just the ones that require dice. Every once in a while try playing one that requires your body as well as your mind.
The “dumb jocks” statement sounds more like fear of outgroups. i.e. those that are not like us are bad. It’s more interesting I think to wonder why there is a distinction between sports-playing and gaming.
Certainly as I’ve gotten older, I know more gamers doing sports. Here in Ireland there is even a big regular LARP that combines paint-balling and gaming so I don’t believe sports are somehow antagonistic towards roleplaying. I’d also not attribute lifestyle issues like unhealthy exercise with gaming per say. I think there would be more of a strong overlap there.
@Mark Cunningham: I see your point about there being overlap and I was not suggesting that gaming should be attributed to lack of exercise and a poor diet. I have been in many groups though where game night is also an excuse to drink heavily and to eat poorly. I also see a lot of obese people at U.S. gaming conventions. The U.S. in general has a higher rate of obesity though, and that is the result of having lots of food readily available for cheap.
I just want to see my friends stay healthy and strong, and my point is that tabletop RPGs are not bound to these unhealthy habits at all. In fact, LARPs that have a lot of physical activity are a great way to promote exercise and gaming in one activity. I’d love to see a LARP that also promotes a healthy diet by havign rules regarding what kind of food is available. Vegetable stews and soups would be in greater abundance than fatty foods with lots of meat in order to better represent how rare it was to have something like roasted lamb or other such dishes before modern farming made it easy to acquire meat.
There could very well be a cultural difference here too. Would you say that the average tabletop gamer is overweight in Ireland? Not just overweight, but obese? To me it seems that many gamers tend to be obese here in the U.S.
It probably is partly context. There is a growing obesity problem in Europe generally and in Ireland but not yet to the same level as the US, I believe.
I just can’t say that there is a big problem with gamers here. The last con I went to has a mix of nationalities and yes there were a lot of chubby folk, but it wasn’t a majority. Funnily enough, the local shop ran out of coke during the convention, but a lot of gamers could also be found in the bar. In my current group, my GM runs everyday, another plays a lot of rugby and the other players seem to be naturally thin.
Though I have found that many (if not most) gamers I’ve met are in professions that involve sitting at computers all day, such as programmers, web designers, writers and so on.