Cheering for Goliath
Some of the most memorable moments in sports have come when an underdog no one expects to win manages to steal a victory from a much more dominant team.
It makes for great movies, both fictional and factual. There’s just something that pulls at heart strings when the no-name little guy topples the champ. We somehow feel like a piece of us wins, too. It gives us hope that if we just keep giving it our best, we too can defeat that which is standing between us and triumph. The ultimate hero is the winner who had no business being the victor.
Prepare yourself for the brutal truth. That may be the most hypocritical thing I’ve witnessed. While I appreciate the motivational influences these occasions have on everyday life, in sports, we should never celebrate a lucky win by an inferior team.
Think about it, cheering for the underdog is cheering against the favored team. It’s cheering against hard work. It’s cheering against practice. It’s cheering against the very excellence that coaches are supposed to be encouraging players to achieve.
I’m not talking about a team who has struggled for years but has steadily improved to become better and takes down a better team. I’m talking about the team who wins due to a bad call, lucky shot or fortunate bounce. The sad truth is the little team people once cheered for when they won as a Cinderella story quickly becomes the villain if they have continued success.
Case in point, the New England Patriots. During their rise in the early 2000s, people all over the country were cheering on the underdog Pats as the team who’d never really won anything. Flash forward a few years and people hate them. All because they did what everyone hoped they would do— win.
One of the most hated teams in all of sports is the New York Yankees baseball club. It’s no surprise that they are also the most successful MLB team in history. The most common reason given by the anti- Yankee crowd is, “They win too much.” So I hope they tell their kids’ little league team, “OK guys let’s shoot for an 8-8 season.” Admittedly I hate the Yankees but not because they are winners but because they beat my Braves. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate their dominance.
In a society that seems to be infatuated with cheering against those who are successful, sports fans should be the last people to be discouraging the payoff of hard work and preparation. What’s next? Are we going to give the Heisman trophy award to a guy on the practice squad who gives it the All-American try?
While I’m appreciative of the biblical victory of David over the giant, when it comes to sports, I think I will cheer for Goliath.