‘Canada’s Smartest Person,’ Ticats’ guard Peter Dyakowski, dispels stereotypes about athletes

Hamilton Tiger-Cats' offensive guard Peter Dyakowski's offseason game-show endeavours paid off in a big way Sunday night, with the 27-year-old CFL player coming out on top on the CBC show Canada's Smartest Person. Dyakowski, who excelled in academics in both high school and in college at LSU (where he started in mechanical engineering before his football workload got to be too much, causing him to switch to history) was up against three other finalists from professions more traditionally thought to be brainy, which he earlier described as "a high-school science teacher, a young physicist who works on lasers for super collisions and one of the top poets in Canada." He topped them all in the two-hour show Sunday, though, which focused on multiple challenges to contestants' intelligence in six categories not based on IQ, ranging from math and logic to visual and spatial to linguistics to interpersonal and musical. As you can see from this CBC News clip, the challenges got pretty intense:

That clip also includes an interview with Dyakowski, starting around the 0:56 mark. He had some great things to say, particularly on the misconception that all athletes are dumb.

"It's fun to represent athletes and maybe knock down a stereotype or two along the way," he said.

Dyakowski said the whole experience of being on the show was a blast.

"It was a rush," he said. "It was a lot of fun. I'm going to be riding this for a long time."

He said the award means a lot to him, and he plans to show it off.

"I'm going to be so obnoxious with this trophy," Dyakowski said. "It's going everywhere with me. It's going to be sitting in the meeting room all season, [but] it will hide whenever I make a mistake when we're watching post-game film."

Dyakowski said winning a contest like this is a terrific feeling.

"It's exciting," he said. "It's great validation. As an athlete, as a bigger guy, one is often not assumed to be automatically intelligent, so now I've got something to show it and something to settle every argument down the road now."

When asked, Dyakowski then relayed a Grey Cup pick that will make the Tiger-Cats' management proud.

"The Hamilton Tiger-Cats, all the way," he said. "We've already won one award so far, let's keep adding to it."

Dyakowski's win stirred up plenty of Twitter commentary Sunday night. Here's some of the best, including tweets from the man himself, commentary from The Vancouver Sun's Mike Beamish and one notable one from Dyakowski's high school football coach at Vancouver College, TSN's Farhan Lalji:

The perception of football players as dumb may be a common one, but perhaps Dyakowski's win can help to change that. More than anything, football players are individuals and should be treated as such; there are plenty of book-smart guys out there, as well as street-smart guys and others who excel in different areas. The simple stereotype that playing football for a living means you're a meathead certainly isn't true, and hopefully this can go a ways towards erasing that.

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