Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Underdogs are #1...or #2...or 3, or......

What is it about the "underdog" that intrigues me so?  Why am I so prone to rooting for the player or the team that no one really expects to win?  It's a classic scenario and pretty much a gauranteed movie hit if you write it up for a screenplay. 
Maybe it's the fact that I'm tall...for a first grader.  On one level or another, I think I've been an underdog in most competitive situations I've found myself in.  Maybe it's being the product of an off and on Mountain West school....the fans of the Univ. of Wyoming are a special breed and deserve a write up all their own!  Maybe it's ingrained as a result of being born in Minnesota and rooting for the Twins and Vikings with only 2 World Series titles to boast in a quarter century of knowing what I was actually cheering for.  
I love movies like Rudy, The Replacements, Field of Dreams...shoot, even Lord of the Rings was an underdog story.  They are stories of people who perservered, who endured.....and in the end wound up on top, or at least gave themselves the chance to be. 
I heard a great line once..."If you don't know how high to set the bar....don't".   Great line, great thought for a coach or teacher or parent.  It's something I think about with my son.  Right now, he's an underdog in everything.  He's only 2, but that's just it, he doesn't know how play a sport or build a business or even put more than three words together.  But he'll get there, and if I do this thing right as a dad, he'll go from underdog to the top of the heap.  Everyone who has dug their way out of the bottom has had help from someone....a helping hand, an encouraging word, a timely loan, maybe just an ear or shoulder. 
I think everyone starts out as an underdog at some point...maybe it was when you were two years old, maybe it was when you left high school for the real world or college.  Frankly, I can't think of many folks who started out with the cards stacked in their favor, but I definetly know some who are better at cards than most of us.    Either way, I think everyone should be the underdog, at least once.  Don't you want to know what you're made of?  Don't you want to know who your friends and family really are?  Wouldn't it be nice to soak in a moment of pure accomplishment?   If you can watch the scene in Rudy where he runs on the field at the end of the fourth quarter of the last game of his career and gets a sack and gets carried off the field....if you can watch that and not be moved to tears, or at least very shiny eyes...well, you're not human.
No, I don't mind being an underdog.  I don't mind that my favorite teams will probably only make money for me if I bet for them just to "beat the spread".  Because nothing feels sweeter than an upset. I guess it boils down to a question of expectations.
If you are expected to win and you do, great, no big whoop.  If you're expected to suceed and you don't....it's either a fluke, or you're not as good as we thought you were.  But, if you're exptected to lose and you win....man, it's your day today so enjoy it! 
Nothing better than exceeding expectations, whether they are your own or extrinsically placed. 
So, think about what part of your life that you're an "underdog" in.....think about getting off the bottom....look around and notice:  1. you're not alone, and  2.  someone is there to help you out--somehow. 
Yeah, I think that's why we like a good underdog story--they're more realistic, more like us.  I personally can't wait for that moment of glory, the hard fought win, or maybe just seeing my boys do a little better than I ever could, that would be enough too.   Really, that's more likely than UW winning a championship or the Vikings hauling home a Super Bowl win....but I'll keep watching...they'll find someone to help them out.

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