I believe in the underdog. It may sound pretty dumb, but the reasons are as justified as the examples are timeless. The underdog has forever been beloved by all who watch, the team that no one expects to win, yet everyone roots for because for some reason, a team that is supposed to win is not any fun to watch win.
It would be one thing if the underdog never won, always accepted their defeat before the pre-game pump up speech that is often seen in the sports movies of today. Acceptance of defeat would result in loss of interest in these teams, but that is not the case though. Every so often something magical happens in the realm of sports, which reinforces the love of the underdog in all those that believe.
For me, my belief of the underdog began with a team of no name college hockey players that got together to unite under the American flag as the representatives for U.S.A in the 1980 Olympic games. Although I was not alive at that time, I, as many others, know the story of that group of 20 players. A team of kids that no one expected to go to the games and even compete in their group made it to the medal round, taking down the #2 hockey team on the planet on their way. In the medal round, an unlucky draw pitted them against the best team ever assembled, the Russians. This task was daunting; as the Americans had already suffered defeat at the hands of the USSR only day’s prior. To add to the pressure of playing the Olympic champions each of the last 5 Games, the US was involved in a standoff with the Communist Russians over their invasion of Kazakhstan. This gave the game numerous political overtones and only mounted the spotlight the 20 year olds were under. The team overcame all the odds though, and in one of the most shocking upsets of history, the Americans won to advance to the gold medal game.
Underdogs have completed upsets like this throughout history. Most recently, Appalachian State, a division 1 AA school beat the University of Michigan, the 5th ranked football team in the country to spark the idea that teams like A-State, a division lower than Michigan, should be included in the championship series.
Things like this may not mean much to a layperson, but to someone like me who believes in the magic of sports these events are thrilling and each time something happens, like the ’04 Red Sox beating the Yankees in a first to four series being down 3 games to none, make me believe even more in the fleeting joy that sports bring to people like me, the ones who believe in the underdog.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.