When we announced our very recent move to our new location, we communicated from the jump that with an expanded facility, it would be our goal to expand our vision in terms of community programming, and that part of that expansion would include sporting events.
There were a lot of folks who jived with this idea -- they were looking for a safe, inclusive spot where they could enjoy delicious foods, an expanded menu of adult beverages and occasional sporting events along with board games, film screenings, cult TV series and other legacy content that we have hosted in the past.
Naturally, there were also some people who hated this idea. And full disclosure, some of those people have been rather vocal about their discontent via social media:
“Nobody needs an inclusive place to get beer buckets and watch football.”
“Now you’re looking to compete with every other sports bar out there, and not making it close.”
“There’s a full bar with a huge tv showing a football game- if I wanted that, I’d go to any of the other dozens of sports bars in town. “
“I don't know that I like that you guys have decided to host sporting events now.
I understand that people like sports, and should be able to get together to cheer on their favorite teams...and I'm sure it helps business-wise.
But there are plenty of other bars and restaurants for that...to me, Geeksboro has always been a one-of-a-kind place to escape from the hullabaloo, and celebrate your geeky side.
I for one definitely won't be coming whenever I see you hosting any sporting event.”
We certainly understand need to feel protective of a haven or place where typically excluded people might feel accepted. And we want to assure people that regardless of our iteration or location, Geeksboro will always be a place that champions the excluded over the gatekeepers.
But what happens when enough excluded people get together and become gatekeepers in their own way? When the excluded become the exclusive?
This was a phenomenon I encountered when we first opened in 2012, and nerd culture was being redefined by women who were publicly embracing sci-fi, horror, fantasy, comics and video games. Writing about this now seems odd, considering how accepted it has become. But at the time, there were some men in the nerd community who felt resentful of this change. Invaded, even. They claimed these women weren’t real nerds and hit them with the slur ‘Fake Geek Girls.’
Almost immediately, we made it our goal to counter this anti female nerd sentiment by hosting Geek Girl Rising, a mini convention that showcased female artists and creators, including Hope Larson and a then undiscovered Erica Henderson as well as female nerd rock duo The Doubleclicks. It was a powerful moment that fulfilled our mission of inclusivity.
As for this ‘geeks hate sports’ sentiment, I want everyone to know that we get it. There are lots of geeks, myself included, who aren’t sports fans. I could not give you the names of more than two current professional football quarterbacks if my life depended on it.
Additionally, I am well aware of the fact that there are lots of nerds who, at some point in their adolescence, were bullied or teased by sports fans, or jocks. I know this, because it certainly happened to me. A group of kids from my high school soccer team used to mock me relentlessly because I expressed my love of anime at the time by bringing a pink Sailor Moon lunchbox to school every day.
“Flamer,” they called me as if it were an insult to be gay.
I could have let this juvenile conflict to create a chip on my shoulder a la Dr. Doom. Fortunately, I am able to realize that most soccer fans aren’t like the ones who tried to bother me in high school. In fact, I would wager that most of those soccer fans who did try to bother me in high school are no longer the same people.
Most importantly, I know that being mad at all sports fans today would not retroactively protect that high school version of myself who brought a pink lunchbox to school. He doesn’t need to be protected. He took his lumps and is a better, more empathetic person because of it.
Because of the empathy I got from the sting of being singled out or targeted because of who I am and what I enjoy, the very last thing I would ever want to be is someone who would inflict that pain onto other people.
So when a group of soccer fans requested that we host Premier League Soccer matches on Saturday and Sunday mornings, it was easy to say yes. It fulfilled our mission statement of being a safe, inclusive space where people can share the things they love with a community of fans. It was also a good use of our dining room and bar area during times of the week when we are typically slow. Additionally, at no point was the option to play these soccer matches in our bar a Sophie’s Choice made at the expense of our traditional programming.
With Geeksboro, I want everyone to feel welcome. In the early phase of our business, we made a conscious choice to avoid sports programming quite simply because we lacked the space to do so. But now that we have additional space, we can use it as an opportunity to invite more people to our party. And I think we’re a better community because of it.
Now on Sundays, someone who spends all day at our business can watch an English soccer match, listen to a live jazz performance, play video games or board games and then cap off the day by watching a new episode of Doctor Who or The Walking Dead in our event space. Best of all, they can do these things while enjoying delicious beverages and hearty, innovative foods for both omnivores and vegans alike. That’s a pretty full use of one’s day, I would say.
And if at anytime of the day, there is programming you might not particularly enjoy, our space will almost always give you somewhere else to go in order to get away from it.
We will always want Geeksboro to be a place that welcomes all people, unless of course those people make others feel unwelcome. And until we are forced to close our doors for good, our goal is to always live up to our original motto: “You Belong Here.”
Lastly, to those who feel like Geeksboro does not host enough nerdy events, we want assure you that we are currently hard at work adding new events and programming to our schedule every day. In the meantime, here’s what we’ve got coming up in the next few months:
If you can look at this list and still believe that we do not cater to geek culture, I am not so sure that any business can really help you.