No one is more honored, revered, worshiped, and cheered than a successful underdog. Anyone or any team that has this title bestowed on them by experts has more sympathizers that a king, a president, or the dictator of a country. Underdogs don’t get a chance to choose the title. It is awarded them for their failure in whatever competition they undertake or for their obvious lack of talent, speed, strength, capability, intelligence, and resourcefulness. Only a valiant loser can be considered apt for this endearing nomenclature.
Pathetic as the members of this group may be in any professional or amateur sports league, there are far more underdogs that champions! Many professional athletes are well paid, over paid, and definitely better paid than their loyal fans. Their main claim to fame is that they are trying to do the impossible: upset a winner, or unseat a political leader, a CEO, or anyone who reached the pinnacle of some difficult endeavor. After all the struggle to attain the status of number one, an ambitious person risks losing his/her status immediately to some other underdog.
No one sets out to be called an underdog. It has no particular reward. Certainly the pay is inferior to that of champions and company leaders. You don’t get to fix or negotiate your salary, approve your bonus, and add to your perks. You may have run your best race: political, amateur, or professional, but only the victor “gets the spoils.” The monetary prizes, the top salaries don’t often go to those who get in line to enter the arena with the slimmest chance to succeed.
A packed Colosseum may root for an underdog, but the promoters know that the lions will get fed. No Roman gladiator ever faced an opponent dreaming of going home in a Grecian urn. No horse is entered in the Kentucky Derby whose owner is hoping for second. No revolutionary group ever started a war anticipating to surrender unconditionally. No insurrectionist led an uprising expecting a trial for inhuman acts in the World Court. The irony here is that all underdogs think they can be champions, while those who know better refer to them as “underdogs.”
The rules of the game are set. No one disputes them. Fairness in the contest is essential to drawing a crowd. There are umpires, referees, judges, and all kinds of whistle blowers well paid to assure adherence to the rules. The fans themselves in most contests are very helpful in maintaining fair treatment of the home team. Officials are well aware of what has happened to their fellow arbiters who were lenient on the visiting teams.
Fans seem to become particularly upset if fairness does not rule, and render their dislike in many uncouth ways depending on the intensity of their involvement with the sport. In the more sophisticated world we live in today, it is highly unlikely that harm will come to these essential rule interpreters. But occasionally it happens.
Even in the elite games of golf and tennis, rowdy supporters of the underdogs are becoming a nuisance, especially in contests between teams who represent their countries. Yet it is considered healthy to society that the backers of the underdog turn out en masse to cheer for their underdog heroes and indirectly monitor the official treatment of the team. Without fairness the underdog has no chance of winning and bringing happiness to his loyal supporters.
Almost all of us have been underdogs at least once in our lives. But there is a corps of self-professed underdogs who relish this losing role. They are the gamblers, the bettors, and the shy entrants in the office pools: anyone who ignores the odds against winning. It seems to be human nature to believe that underdogs have a special fate. That just once in their unrewarded lives, each one on a different day is going to “win big.” Not just for matching four out of five, but for guessing all the numbers, for hitting the jack-pot, for winning the multi-million dollar bonanza.
Yes, and your day may be tomorrow! Only the most pessimistic reject this siren call. The vast majority of humans who bet feel that they are all uncrowned champions, just waiting for that special moment when, for no reason at all, divine intervention will select them to be honored with the “Big Enchilada!” Underdog no more, loser no more, inadequate no more! Then they can look down on all those other underdogs and think, “I’ve got mine at last!”
Humans can’t avoid the temptation, it’s in our genes. We’ve been breed to dominate. We’ve been told by the highest authority as recorded in the Bible that our mission is to rule all the other creatures that crawl upon this medium-sized, undistinguished planet. How six billion plus individual humans can share in the mission to dominate the Earth baffles me.
What do the ambitious young folks expect? Bring on those arrogant competitors who would be dominators or dominatrix! Let the circuses begin! Identify the underdogs! Doesn’t everyone want to win a million dollars or marry a millionaire? Don’t we all want to quit work and live in luxury the rest of our lives? Well, as the cosmetics ads inform women constantly, we deserve it!
So, all you underdogs. Hey you! I’m talking to you, too. Stop lolling around thinking that all this is for someone else. Your name is on the next winner’s check. You have already won, you just haven’t been informed. You can now become an ex-underdog with all the privileges this entails: 15 minutes of instant fame followed by years of obscurity, BUT with the financial means to escape from that dreary life of an underdog.
I’m not here to promote the underdog status. There is less stress in anonymity, believe it or not. And striving to shed this unwelcome title requires a tremendous investment in time, energy, and sacrifice – even for earning the bucks to enter the lottery, which most folks don’t win contrary to public opinion.
I just want you to feel comfortable when the label is trust upon you, or you subconsciously adopt it as yours for life. You’ll find many cheering for you, wishing you the best, and not expecting much from you. But they will become your best friends should you become a winner! So, go for it! Just do it! And don’t look for me afterwards, unless you win!