LZ Granderson Why I'm Raising My son to be a Nerd CNN PragmaticMom Pragmatic Mom

Why Nerds are Better than Jocks!

Nerds versus Jocks: Who Wins in Life?

 Jocks go on to play for your favorite team but nerds go on to own the teams those jocks play for. 
–LZ Granderson

LZ Granderson Why I'm Raising My son to be a Nerd CNN PragmaticMom Pragmatic Mom

I was talking to my Mom Neighbor Friend , Lisa, the other day. After embracing public education, her eldest son is now going to an exclusive private school that is a feeder to Harvard and other Ivy Leagues. The reason? Her son who was always two grades above in math found middle school to be boring. Worse, he self-identified as a jock — he’s a great baseball player–and has turned his back on his math gift. Too nerdy. Don’t want to be like them.

At his new school, students are required to play a sport and perform academically at a high level. It sounds like a good fit for him. But here’s the thing: my mom friend has always supported academics. So does her husband. Her son dreamed in math day and night so they put him in a rigorous Russian Math Program because he wanted to do it.

How do you get your child to embrace their inner nerd while preserving their outer jock? LZ Granderson has started cheering for the academics as much as he used to cheer for his son’s sports achievements. I applaud him. It might work for his son, but it didn’t work for my Mom Friend.

It’s hard to be a nerd in middle school. I should know; I was a major nerd. Then I swam for my high school team and became a jock. Well, sort of. I varsity lettered by the skin of my teeth, but I felt different inside. Less nerdy, physically stronger from weight lifting, and part of something bigger (though swimming really is the definition of an individual sport!). What is it about nerds that is so unattractive? Their style? Like nerds can’t have style?! Can’t you study for that too?

The dot.com boom is long over but the nerds still rule the stock market. I wonder when it will be cool to be a nerd? But make no mistake; it’s not NERDS who rule the earth. It’s the ENTREPRENEURIAL nerds. It’s an odd mix of nerdy smarts, vision, leadership (’cause you have to build a team to create a successful company), and a good dash of arrogance. I think sports helps to nurture the leadership aspect and certainly for team building. Vision, though? That’s a gift from god. The smarts is a gift from mom and dad. The athletic prowess too, I suppose.

The upshot? Teaching our kids to take risks and to embrace failure (yes, failure) is the heart and guts of an entrepreneur. If you are afraid of failure, you won’t take risks. But failure is the best teacher in the universe. No lesson is taken more to heart than that of failure. It also gives a forked path which success does not. Do you choose to continue that path of failure? Learn from your mistakes and get better? Or take a turn down a different road which might lead to something interesting? Ah, the possibilities are enticing and endless.

Success, on the other hand, can resemble Golden Handcuffs. Just because you are good at something doesn’t mean that you have to do it. While it does work for some kids who can lock down on their life’s passion at age 5, they are the exception not the rule.

You go LZ Granderson! Teach your son to embrace his inner nerd! Use the sports to build his leadership skills! Talk to him about the value of taking risks and of getting better by failing and getting back up again. This is what separates the nerds from the Billionaire’s Club! And when your son buys that sports franchise, please save me a seat!


LZ Granderson writes a weekly column for CNN.com. A senior writer and columnist for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com, he has contributed to ESPN’s “Sports Center,” “Outside the Lines” and “First Take.” He is a 2010 nominee and the 2009 winner of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation award for online journalism and a 2010 and 2008 honoree of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for column writing. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs


Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) — You know the kind of dad who registers his son for soccer almost as soon as he takes his first step?

That was me.

You know that dad who yells so much on the sideline that he leaves the game a little hoarse?

Yeah, that was me too.

You know the dad who cheers when his kid brings home an A?


Well me neither … until I became that dad a few years ago.

I used to beam with pride watching my son rack up the trophies as he bounced from soccer to hockey to tae kwon do. Over the past couple of years, track has been his focus, as he crushed several school records during citywide meets.

What can I say? My kid’s a stud.

But one thing I’ve noticed over the years is that while everyone from his coaches to other parents and even family members are quick to point out his potential to earn a college scholarship, they do so with all of the emphasis on his athletic prowess.

No one — and I mean, no one — ever brings up his grades, 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.

Cornell’s his back up plan.

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. At my 3rd grade daughter’s oral reports on Americans, her classmate presented on Bill Gates. The kids were fascinated by the staggering amount of money he made. “The richest man in the world,” he reported. The number was so big, the teacher had to step in to give them a visual.

Are you a nerd or a geek?

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.

… rest of the article is here.

There is a great video of him as well there.


By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom

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