Favoring the big dog is often the most logical choice, but favoring the underdog is the most compelling one.
The story of the underdog is a story that we can all relate to. I believe the reason why we want the little guy to take down the biggest and the best is because we all feel like the small guy sometimes. When we see the one who is not expected to succeed do great things, it gives us the idea that we too can accomplish bigger things in our own lives. The accomplishment of the little guy gives us the “take on the world” mentality.
Sports are the easiest way that we express our feelings about the little guy. Honestly, what sports movie is not about an underdog? From Seabiscuit to Cinderella Man, it seems that the underdog dominates the film industry and our imaginations.
From what it seems, if you haven’t rooted for the little guy, you have bought your ticket for the band wagon.
Some famous underdogs include Tom Brady, the 1968 New York Jets, the 1980 USA Hockey team, Rudy, Upset vs. Man O’War (100-1 0dds), Buster Douglas vs. Mike Tyson, Bob Knight vs. his temper, everyone vs. Tiger Woods, and Matt Millen vs. managing the Detroit Lions.
My mind is baffled at the reactions when a team like Northern Iowa defeats Kansas. That one victory was the number one topic of discussion of the NCAA tournament, but for what reason? If you step back and look, all that happened was one basketball team played another and won. The reaction that the game received was because nobody expects a team like the NIU Panthers to even be in a tournament with the “big dogs” much less win.
Another prime example, and my personal favorite, is the 2005 National Championship football game. The USC Trojans, one of the most prestigious teams in all of football, were once again playing for a title. On the other end of the field were the Texas Longhorns, who had not won a championship since 1970. All year, the Trojans were ranked number one, and Texas two. Reggie Bush won the Heisman Trophy and Vince Young came in with a second place finish.
The game was primarily back and forth until 2:09 left in the fourth quarter. USC was on its way to a victory, all they needed was two yards on fourth down to seal the deal. But the Longhorn defense held. The championship came down to fourth down and five from the eight yard line, Texas’ last chance at victory. With 19 seconds to play, Vince Young ran the ball into the end zone to put the Trojans in their place. Young finished with 200 rushing yards, compared to Bush’s 89.
The story of the underdog will always be the one that I tend to relate to the most. There truly is nothing better in sports than watching David kill Goliath.
In my mind, the underdog will always be the favorite.