Underdogs for the Win

Duck attacking a hippopotamus

David gegen Goliath* by BxExAxTxE http://www.flickr.com/photos/63245607@N00/1059309602/ /CC by 2.0

In the beginning of June, a friend and I were discussing the World Cup. She wanted to know my predictions (I have none). I told her that I don’t back any particular team, other then the US, until after the we start the knockout rounds (and now, as we enter the semi-finals, I’m still stumped).  Then, in a throw away comment, I mentioned that I usually pull for the underdog. My friend asked why and I couldn’t really answer. I always have…unless the favored team is mine, of course.

The teams I played on or cheered for when I was growing up were only the underdog about half the time, so it’s not like I grew up with an underdog mentality.

When you expect to lose, you aren’t too upset when you do. But when you expect to lose and you actually win, it’s a mind-blowingly awesome high. There’s some “I told you so” and some pride in yourself that you were able to do it…that you dug down deep, that you showed heart, that you had the determination, or which ever cliche you like best.

There is more of a story to an underdog than “yeah, we always win,” and I’m a sucker for a good story. Or maybe I just like seeing the giants fall…but then, there’s a story there too, isn’t there? “We practice and we win” is kind of yawn inducing, while “we clawed our way to the top” is much more interesting. It’s the struggle that makes any story interesting. And of course, there’s also the less sexualized will they/won’t they question.

Obstacles? Uncertainty? What’s not to love?

But the more I thought about this, the more I realized that my love of the underdog extends to non-athletic life as well.

I tend to like quirky/interesting secondary characters better than the straight main characters. Who was cooler Rachel or Monica? I liked Phoebe. I realize I’m supposed to sympathize with Sookie Stackhouse, but really, I’m more interested in her friend Tara. Perfect Edward versus to-err-is-human Jacob? I choose flaw and imperfection.

Why is it then that I have a sneaking suspicion that Julia is a little more on the straight side than I’d like as a reader?

*I believe “gegen” is German for “against.”


3 thoughts on “Underdogs for the Win

  1. Edward v. Jacob – I prefer Jasper. 😉

    We, as humans, identify with the underdog. We feel like we are the outsider, the person who could use a break. We read books/watch movies about outsiders and underdogs who catch said break after toiling, and beat the man after working hard. We identify with it, and if it can happen for them, it can happen for us.

    I may be using “human” when I should be using “American.” Because that down-and-out who makes it big is also a huge trope in the American myth.

    In soccer, a good game is a good game. If the teams are evenly matched, then it will be a back and forth. If one is a definite underdog, then their bursts of genius are lyrical, and epic. 🙂

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