Nik Butler: What’s being done to encourage the nerds?

“Set4Success is a new charity for the Horsham District which will create and manage dedicated funds to encourage and support young sporting men and women in the Horsham District towards achieving their goals of becoming champions and Olympians of the future.” Those words are direct from Horsham Districts Councils website.

Thursday, 23rd January 2014, 7:00 am

“Amazing”; I thought to myself. “I wonder if there is an equivalent for Science, Engineering or Coding ?” So I went in search across the council website and much of the Internet.

Other than the usual pages that talk about grants and funding I could find nothing which suggests an equal measure has been made for the promotion of effort through intellect over athleticism. Yet I admire how well the organisers of this charity worked with the council to promote, discuss, share and encourage awareness of the Set4Success campaign.

It is interesting to note that whilst Horsham seeks to improve wealth or job creating opportunities it appears to do the minimum to improve its grant investments in areas other than the track and field.

It may be easy to assume I am anti-sports; I am well known for being a bit of a “geek who is good with computers”. It must follow then that an interest in science or computers precludes an interest in activity or physical accomplishment. This image of the lazy, unhealthy, coder is rather well worn and frankly a stereotype. The same drive that pushes developers and scientists to learn and refine knowledge tends to manifest itself in an awareness that keeping a sound mind requires an equally sound body.

I should point out that I am involved, by way of managing a website, with TeenTech ( ); so I am fascinated in how intellectual ability recieves less attention than physical prowess. For example: look at how many pages in this paper are dedicated to sports over science.

Part of the problem is in the language of our society. We use words which sound strong and positive; such as Athletic, Champion, Performance, and Leader when we talk about sporting achievements.

Then we go on to use words like brainy, nerdy, geeky, and smart, in an almost derogatory or dismissive fashion when talking those with a passion for science, engineering, or computing.

So whilst I approve of Set4Success goals I wonder if the question should be asked of Horsham District Council. Can there also be a Tech4Tomorrow?