An extremely short defense of ‘Let’s Play’ (and dispelling the myth of sports cultures’ innate superiority)

I used to sneer at anyone who watched sports for fun. Like, come on! What’s so fun about watching others playing sports which we can do ourselves? Shouldn’t it be fun if we are actually physically involved in the activities? I thought sports spectators were a bunch of imbeciles with feeble grasps of reality.

One day, I found Youtubers. It didn’t take me long to idolise some of this ‘unusual’ breed of entertainers. Not surprising considering their humour and intellectualism (*self-praising cough*) were similar to mine. But, I was surprised that some of them were ‘Let’s Play’ Youtubers, aka Youtube gamers.

As the name suggests, they upload videos of themselves playing video games and millions love to watch them. I was never a video game enthusiast myself and yet, I found myself enjoying Let’s Play. But, one day, I had a realisation: it was surprising that I was surprised by this.

Uhm, that’s confusing. I am sorry. Let me explain.

Growing up, I actually enjoyed watching other people playing games. I loved watching adults playing those difficult games, my cousin playing Suikoden II and my sister playing Pokemon Ruby (a reason why my mom bought me Game Boy Advance SP; Pokemon Ruby was the only game I ever played on the device). I was excited as the actual players. To sum it up, I was already a fan of Let’s Play before Youtube existed. So, my love of Youtube gamers should never be a surprise.

Then, I had another realisation: Let’s Play and sports spectatorship are conceptually similar! Both are about us getting excited by watching others doing activities they (seemingly) enjoy! Throughout the years, I constantly looked down on people for embracing such a ridiculous-sounding concept, not realising I have been embracing a similar one throughout my life! Hypocrisy shredding me to worthless, tiny pieces.

(Side note: I realise how the conceptual comparison is a bit flawed. Let’s Play is not always competitive while e-sports always are, just like what we consider to be traditional sports. But, the spectatorship aspect still stands. I hope…)

Brilliant enough to be the first to have such thought, I am not. Countless Facebook comments have pointed out the same thing. They counter equally countless comments that demean Let’s Play videos and anything ‘nerdy’ in general. Sports fans cannot accept that their beloved culture can be similar to the nerd one.

Never mind the denialism. The hostility is unbelievable and unnecessary. In any similar situations, my old self would react in an even more hostile manner. But, nowadays, I try to replace my hostility with something else: pity. Why? Because one does not have to be a genius to see the mindlessness of their anti-nerd culture rhetoric.

One stupid argument states how sports cultures encourage physical fitness. Sports fans love to believe themselves as people who are collectively in good shape. Somehow, loving sports make them instantly fit. Yeah, no.

Sports culture is all about the reverence of teams and athletes, akin to how nerd culture revere creators and their creations. Embracing the importance of physical fitness is and will never be the core. Can you convince me that every single sports fan is in good shape? Can you convince that those fat sports fans are just my hallucinations?

Fat nerds do exist, including the ones on Youtube. But, there are also people who are both nerdier and fitter than me. Some of the nerdy Youtubers I am subscribed are physically fit, way more than most sports fans will ever be (their physique is often credited for their physical attractiveness).

Going back to Let’s Play format, sports fans love to dismiss it as nothing but the worship of ineptitude, unlike sports spectatorship which is absolutely about admiring talents. Yeah, about that…

Admittedly, untalented Youtubers exist; the constant yelling and crude jokes is their way to compensate. But, being Youtubers can also be challenging. You have to be your own host/actor/voice actor, writer (if a script is needed), editor, director, graphic designer (if one needs catchier thumbnails) and PR person; if you are a Youtube gamer, you have to constantly make commentaries when needed, you are often pressured to upload videos daily and actual gaming skill is an asset.

You know what? I really cannot say whether some professional athletes are actually talented or not; I even don’t have the most basic knowledge about them. But, I can say that the spectatorship also includes watching amateurs playing sports; it is often the case in villages, neighbourhoods and schools. As condescending as it sounds, some amateurs are not talented! Watching untalented players is fine. Pretending that sports spectatorship is all about the appreciation of talent is dishonest.

From all anti-nerd culture arguments in existence, probably the most common one argues about nerds’ supposed lack of maturity. Their obsession with fictional worlds is seen as a sign of unwillingness to grow up. Real grown-ups have learned that only real world things matter. Things like sports cultures. Yeah, again, no.

Immaturity does exist among nerds. But, it is less about their supposedly feeble grip of reality and more about their intolerance of differing tastes (yes, the former is actually a rarity). Interfandom conflicts are excessive in nature and unfortunately abundant. Everyone must love what we love… or else.

… And the same mentality exists among sports fans. They also constantly clash with each other. In fact, their conflicts are more dangerous because they occur on the public spheres. Ensuing vandalism and fatalities are never in shortage. It has been covered too many times by the news. How often do you encounter nerdy fandoms inciting brawls in public spaces?

Also, sports fans cannot claim to be more grounded in reality than nerds are. What is tangible about sports cultures? Nothing. The sports indeed are. But, the cultures that revolve around them aren’t. I repeat, sports cultures are about fans getting excited about sports being played by others, not by themselves. They are excited about teams and athletes who don’t know them personally and probably never will. Their excitement is all about irrational emotional attachments. They are excited about nothing.

I was serious about every single one of my statements…. except for the last one. How can I say that sports fans are excited about nothing? Not only it contradicts the beginning of this article where I acknowledge my own hypocrisy, sports fans are clearly excited about something real. I was just using others’ emotions to vilify them.

Yes, when they substitute reason, emotions can be the path to our own downfalls as shown by many sports fans and nerds. They can fiendishly hate anyone and anything who shatters the divine image of the things they love. Imperfection is blasphemous. Their zealotry is comparable to religious fundamentalists’. Unrestrained emotions are dangerous.

But, when healthily composed, emotions are lovely. Our healthy emotional attachments to certain entities show how we are still able to find things to love. They are confirmations of our humanity, in spite of our constant cynicism.

Or maybe the paragraph above is just me projecting myself on others, falsely believing that what I am experiencing is universal. Did I just my article futile?

Oh, and one more thing before I end this worthlessness: emotions are actually tangible. They are the results of the chemical reactions in our brains. They are not as abstract as I wanted to believe.

I am not sure how the fact contributes to this article. I just want to point out the science.

Author: The Stammering Dunce

I write blogs. I love to act smarter than I really am and I pretend that my opinions are of any significance. Support me on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=9674796

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