It seems no matter what I do, I am always deeply attracted to the underdog. Whether it be the last team in the league, or someone that people have apparently given up on, someone or something no one believes in anymore – I’m there. I know I’m not alone in this sentiment.
Deep down, most of us have a longing to see the statistically improbable occur, rooting for the underdog simply for the sake of the excitement of beating the long odds. I can’t tell you how many times I have longed to see the most improbable things happen simply to feel that my faith in seemingly the most awkward things has been rewarded.
Throughout my life, I have met many individuals who were born into rather awkward and unfortunate circumstances. I won’t go into individual sob stories, as I have plenty of them that I certainly could tell. For purposes of keeping this examination relatively brief, I’ll say that a very high percentage of those that I went to high school with fit the category of “underdog.” Yes, most of them will never see their lives really amount to much, and this is incredibly saddening to me.
Every one of us is born into this world with potential. Yet, so often, there are many mitigating factors that consistently deprive many human beings from being able to realize that potential. Without going too deeply into those factors, I can say that no matter where we are at in life, seeing someone else reach their potential in an exciting fashion helps us to then pursue reaching our own potentials.
One of the most popular ways of rooting for the underdog is through sports. After all, in a sports league, there will always be winners and losers. Just like in real life, not everyone can win. Perhaps no sport is as analogous to real life struggles, successes, and failures as baseball. Sports give every team a chance to succeed, in a way that real life often doesn’t.
In particular, baseball is often referred to as a metaphor for life; without sounding cliché, it’s true that baseball’s often deliberate pace mirrors often how our lives unfold. We all start in the minor leagues, and many of us will never reach the top. But is that anything to be ashamed of, especially if you made the best of your chance? These journeys through the minor leagues often build character and teach life lessons then correlating into real life successes outside of the sport. One of these is knowing, if you don’t win now, you can look forward to next season.
In sport, there is always hope, obvious in ways that in our own lives are often invisible. Sometimes it simply takes one star to emerge and carry his or her peers to the most improbable victories. This is a major reason why I’ve long been fascinated by “rebuilding” Major League Baseball teams. Through a long season, the cream naturally rises to the top. These marathons are often painful to watch, but sometimes necessary for a sports franchise to weather in order to again find its footing.
In any case, there is one thing about these teams to remember: they may not have the greatest players in the world, but they are still Major League ball-players. You can’t take that away from them as long as they wear those uniforms. Simply seeing players that would never get a chance from most other major league ball clubs is quite a thing in itself.
I’ve seen players rise to the occasion more than a few times. Yes, those who rise to fifteen minutes of baseball fame happen almost every year, and that fame often quickly fades. But, it’s fun while it lasts. No matter how many games these rebuilding teams may lose in a year, it makes every win that much more special.
Human beings often rely too much on expectations to measure our own self-worth; therefore, we project expectations on the sports teams and various other endeavors we follow closely. We all want to have some certainty that we are correct in our assessment of various teams as they are constructed. Not only that, human beings just want to believe they are right about something.
Still, too many sports fans forget life is not always about winning. Sometimes, it’s just about the game, having the chance to perform, no matter what the outcome. So many of us focus solely on the value of a win these days. Besides, who wants to lose? But, you know why people root for an underdog? Often times, no one else has expectations for these players outside of their own organization and their families. So, what’s there to lose?
I’ve always rooted for the underdogs because, frankly, it’s fun. Let’s face it: winning all the time does leave you rather complacent when the wins suddenly disappear. When you’re not expected to win, but then you do, it’s that much more special. This is why it’s my passion to follow those individuals and teams with no expectations. Rooting for the underdog makes for a much more entertaining ride, bumpy as it may be, because the unexpected can, and often will, happen.
When have you rooted for the underdog? How did that experience go for you?