Friday, January 21, 2011

the league

When it became apparent that nerds were going to take over and rule the world, athletic dudes around the world banded together and created The League for the Suppression of Nerds through Physical Means, also known as Every Sport Ever Made Ever Ever Ever.

You or your significant other might be a member of this group if you have ever been able to successfully answer any sports trivia question in any capacity, instead of immediately blanking on the names of everybody on the team, and even your close family and friends after watching a game. In fact, if you even answer sports trivia, instead of throwing those cards away the minute you purchase Trivial Pursuit, you belong to The League.

On second thought, if you play Trivial Pursuit, you are in no way connected to The League.

And if you don't belong to The League, I'm sorry, but you're a woman. There's no other explanation for refusing to base your entire life around the actions of a group of people you have absolutely no connection to in any way, beyond the fact that they attended the same school you did and didn't destroy all chances at normal human relationships by showing up to a Halloween party in wrapping paper with a giant tag reading "From God To Women".1

This makes life difficult if you are not a member, and yet you wish to be taken seriously in your daily life. In other subjects, if you wish to master a topic, you can check out a nice book from the library, and enjoy a pleasant afternoon reading on a soft-backed chair next to a window, before picking up your pocket protector and heading home.2

In sports, however, one must glean information from any number of sources, though I can't really enumerate what those sources are, because, in one of the great mysteries of my adult life, people who have never memorized any digits of pi can rattle off irrational facts and figures from an infinite number of disparate sources. Where does one go to study and see if a team is "good" this year? The newspaper? Books? Radio Talk Shows? Podcasts? Must one collect the mountain of information one's self by watching every game and every team?

I'm always comforted when, having met someone, they make a fatal slip in the conversation and identify themselves as an individual not belonging to The League. They may accomplish this by using words or phrases like, "hypothesis", or "I neglected to shower this month", or "quite", or "the cards have been sufficiently randomized", or any and all references to worshipping Steve Jobs, the Santa Claus of Our Time.

You might be surprised to hear that there is a competing organization to The League, known as the Statistical Brotherhood of Truth. You indicate your membership in said organization by using the term "heteroskedasticity" at any moment in a conversation. The interlocutor at that point is to respond with the mean and variance of the distribution of their choice, with the obvious exception of the Cauchy, because only nerds like the Cauchy distribution. Though, it wouldn't be against protocol to mention another moment about the mean like kurtosis.3

Members of The League get their kicks by inviting nerds to play sports with them, whereupon they assign these nerds "routes" in which the instructions are to "run around wildly until we decide you've entertained us enough duck boy". The route that is my personal favorite is the one I was instructed to run during the last flag football game I played: "run straight until I hit you in the back of the head with the ball". I am not making these instructions up, and during the following play, I found myself pondering why exactly that would be the optimal route: I can't really catch a ball with any part of my body, must less my head, and definitely not the back of my head. It wasn't until later that I realized that he belonged to The League, and was putting me in my rightful place.4

You may attempt to absent yourself from these sporting events, but these sportsmen will insist that they need you in order to form "even teams", and by "even teams", they mean "someone we can pee on after ignoring you for an hour".

Should the teams be even, members of The League will pointedly encourage, or, in some vernaculars, the appropriate term would be, force you to play basketball with the women in gym. This is in no way permanently emotionally scarring.5

On a related note, I often hear debates about the permanence of The League, and whether or not certain "sports" will be played in the hereafter. I can't really speak to the accessibility of these events in the celestial realms, but I have it on good authority that these are all very prominently featured in hell.6

1. I pray the terrific irony of me wearing that ensemble will not be lost on you. In my defense, I thought it was funny. Dear Chris, run these ideas by people before you execute. Love, yourself. Also, dancing in a box can be fun. Even if it's by yourself.
2. In sixth grade one of my 'best friends' asked me if my day planner was a pocket protector. What I was doing with a) a shirt with a pocket, and b) a day planner in that pocket is beyond my current explanation, beyond the admission that I was easily the most cluelessly nerdy person on the face of God's green earth. This cluelessness was somewhat diminished that day by my realization that he couldn't get that derisory question out without a torrent of laughing.
3. Kurtosis being the measure of 'peakedness' of a random distribution. Someday I'm going to build up the courage to say something like, 'the kurtosis of my interest in you is quite a high statistic, quite a high statistic indeed'. Someday, my friends, someday. This could not decrease the likelihood of me getting a second date beyond its current global minimum.
4. Timmy, I still fear you and that football.
5. It has taken me the past fifteen years to be able to mention this in any capacity. Bring this up in conversation with me at your own physical peril. And they say they're cutting gym classes across the country due to budget restraints. Let them, I say. Let our kids be fat and well adjusted.
6. If you are an individual with whom mating is biologically feasible, let me take this time to warrantlessly claim that all of my wimpy genes are fully and entirely recessive, and will not pollute your offspring, should you be so gullible as to both believe that and go out with me after reading this.


jamwt said...

Sports talk radio + Don't tell anyone.

MommaMcCarthy said...

I think it's evident from Jay and my frequent bursts of laughter (particularly after footnote 3 and the trivial persuit comment) that we have never been a part of The League. We also agreed that the disposing of the sports and leisure cards is a brilliant idea and why didn't we think of that sooner?