Jocks vs. Nerds

I read a really GREAT ARTICLE today. An article that I think a lot of parents should take note of, whether they’re raising boys or girls (or both).

As a boy mom, it’s inevitable that more than likely, at some point in their life, my kids are going to become obsessed with sports. I am ready and willing to accept this. I know that at some point my weekends are going to be filled with soccer games, tee-ball practices, and swim meets. I know that soon, all of my extra money (lol at ‘extra money’) will go to football pads, and running cleats, and cups. CUPS. And really, I’m okay with that.

Here’s the thing though, I live in Texas. And while I love my state (as any decent Texan does) here’s how things work: if you are a boy, you’re almost EXPECTED to be an athlete. Friday Night Lights is not a myth, that’s how things work here. If you want to be anybody in the middle school/high school/college social hierarchy, you need to play sports, and more specifically, you need to play football. If you don’t, well, then you’re a nerd. A dork. And even worse, a nobody. And not just to the other kids, to a lot of adults as well.

Every time I turn on the news these days I hear about the crappy state our classrooms are in. How there are 30+ kids to a teacher. How our text books are being written by POLITICIANS. And hell, I can barely talk to my mother these days (who works for a school district in San Antonio) without her ranting about our governor and his crappy budget cuts and lack of education spending. Yet somehow, school districts can spend $60 MILLION on a high school football stadium (no really, a school near us is in the process of building one).

I have no delusions that I can change how things of this nature work in our school systems and society before my boys become old enough to understand them. It starts SO early. From the moment you realize you’re having a little boy, and visit the baby boy clothing area in any store, and get to choose between a onesie that says, ‘Daddy’s little All-Star’ or ‘Number One Slugger!’. Hell, tee-ball starts at THREE YEARS OLD here … so to a lot of people, the Mouse needs to start playing tee-ball and flag football NOW if he wants the edge. My kid, the kid who can’t even sit through an entire episode of Dora the Explorer, should be taught how to catch a ground ball and sit in a dugout and wait for his turn to hit, and then go sit in the dugout again after his three chances to hit the ball.

(insert hysterical laughter here)

Admittedly, I am not the most athletic person in the world (understatement of the year). For a while, I was a swimmer (50m Free in 30.78 right here, yo!) while in high school … but that only lasted as long as I could participate in swim team, and still be in band. I have no grand illusions that my boys have received any type of athletic gene from me. I hope they’ve received my passion for reading. My love of writing. My husband’s love of music. And both of our artistic abilities. But neither one of us has any astounding athletic skills we’re passing on here.

This doesn’t mean I don’t want them to play sports. There’s nothing wrong with sports. In fact, I think they’re a great confidence booster and help kids develop a lot of skills (like sportsmanship and team play) … but they will never be a top priority in our household. I want there to be a good balance between the two. I want my kids to come and ask me to read them a book, and then go outside and play catch with each other. I want them to bring home 1st prize from their science fair, and then run out the door for soccer practice. I want them to realize that even though they are absolutely inundated with the idea that in order to be anybody who is worth anything, you must be a ‘jock’ – that this is not the case. That they are worth more and can do more with their lives than even the best sports ‘heros’ can.

So the next time you need to buy a little boy a gift … and can’t think of what to get him … buy him a book. Buy him a butterfly kit. Buy him some paint and construction paper. Buy him a puppet. I promise, he already has enough footballs.


  1. says

    Completely agree. Music was a huge part of my life. My dad was a band director and so of course I was in band. And I got made fun of. I was first chair in the state of Missouri for two years. A very talented musician. There is no doubt in my mind I could have gone to Julliard. But people still made fun of me. I was a band geek. I wasn’t cool because I decided to play an instrument instead of play a sport. And the music program that my dad worked so hard at NEVER got budget increases. Only cuts. It is unfair but you’re right I don’t see it being changed any time soon.

    All this to say – I want my boys to choose what they want to do. We will introduce them to all kinds of things and they can someday choose themselves. If that means gymnastics for Landon? We’ll do it!

  2. says

    Okay – I have to laugh at myself because I just remembered what I wrote about today on my own blog. But I do buy them books and other toys not involving sports. I swear! :)

    • Tottums says

      LOL Molly. The Mouse LOVES golf too. And he loves him some baseball … and I’m okay with that. I just hope he knows that reading and art and music will ALWAYS come first in our house :)

      ps. Why was I not following your blog? Problem fixed. ;)

  3. Amanda says

    This is awesome, and so is the cnn article. I want my girls to be well rounded individuals. I have not one iota of athletic ability so their dad is on his own when it comes to teaching them how to play teeball. ;)

  4. says

    GREAT post! I’m a boy Mom and my husband and I live and breathe sports. I often joke, “what if the boys hate baseball/football/basketball/golf etc? What would we do?” But, we’d support them with all of heart and encourage them to work hard to become better each day in whatever they do!

  5. says

    I completely agree! I actually tell my husband ALL the time that I hope our kids are nerds because in the long run the nerds run the show! They might have to struggle through things early in life, but that gives them the extra courage/strength when they grow up. I had a happy balance of being a jock/nerd growing up and even though I might have been a “nobody” because I didn’t stand out or shine, I learned a lot more valuable lessons about hard work and what’s truly important. I want my kids to play sports when they request it and actually enjoy it. They will not receive any pressure from me to win, let alone even play. Great post!

  6. susie says

    I agree. I do hope though my son will like to play sports as i was such a tom boy!
    my husband was a band geek and hopes he will pick up an instrument! LOL

    but he’s only 2 and we’re worried what schools will be like by the time he enters!

    following you from i love blogging hop! would love a follow back and say hello

  7. Whitney says

    Great post, Totty. I’m a girl mom (so far – we find out the sex of #2 a week from today!) and we don’t have the high school football obsession in Michigan that southern states seem to have, but I am with you. I want to expose my children to everything – athletics, music, dance, arts – and let them decide what they love. Jock, nerd, whatever. I just care about happy :)

  8. Jess says

    Well you know Ethan is totally into theater and we are fully embracing it right now! I can’t believe some of the comments we have received about him doing this. Things like “Don’t you want him to be a BOY boy, not a wimpy theater kid?” and “Oh no, now you are raising him to be gay!!” I am amazed at what people just expect out of boys! That was a great article as well :)

    • Tottums says

      People are RIDICULOUS. I can not tell you how thrilled I would be if the Mouse or the Froggy got themselves interested in theater, or choir, or dancing. Ethan is going to be the next Brad Pitt and then we’ll see who’s laughing. ;)

  9. says

    I’m with you, Momma. Strength and athleticism are fleeting, relatively speaking, compared to brains. Sure, they are important, but they will definitely not be the focus in our house. We’re geeks here :)

  10. says

    Interesting post! At our house I try to expose my kids to a lot of things and hope that they can find something they love. My boys are only 1 and 3, but I think I have always had expectations they would do sports, but not necessarily for competitive reasons. My husband teaches tennis and racquetball part-time. He gets frustrated because physical education isn’t a priority where we live. I liked what you said about balance. That’s what I’m aiming for too. :)

  11. says

    I’m totally guilty of throwing my boy into tumbling, buying him sports-related toys, but he has energy to burn! I loved that article, and I re-posted it on my facebook as soon as I read it, and ironically enough, I saw it tweeted it out by Rashard Mendenall, a player for the Steelers.

    Sports won’t get us everywhere, and I want my little ones to be brainiacs, just like their Daddy. Well-rounded brainiacs :)

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