Rooting for the underdog?

Why do we do that? As K sat totally involved in the Federer – Roddick Wimbledon final and rooting for Roddick to win, I couldn’t help wondering what is it in us that makes us want to root for the underdog? Each time I raise this question I get the standard response “for a good game”. Somehow, that does not hold water for me. Be it hoping for Jamal to walk away into the sunset with Latika or picking David over Goliath as a culture we seem to be rooted in picking out the unlikely winner.

As for me, I wanted Federer to win though I wouldn’t have been crushed if Roddick did. Sports does not hold as much appeal for me as do the movies or real life. I am a sucker for feel good endings and brave all odds stories. I remember relishing the Drama section of Readers Digest taking in the courage of the little girl in the sea or the brave pilot saving lives.

Perhaps, the relative normalcy of my life makes me crave the improbable? What do you think? Why do we root for the underdog? Do we see ourselves in them? Is there some message of hope in each of these stories urging us to follow our dreams, hold on to hope and overcome our personal mountains? Or is it the sheer drama that keeps us glued to the story? Come on now. Share what you think.

8 thoughts on “Rooting for the underdog?

  1. No kidding! It was a nail biting finish and even though, when I started watching I had no firm affections for either one of them – at the end of it all, I just wanted Roddick to win- a supreme reward for the effort and the challenge he gave to Federer. It was a well fought match, but at the end of the day I am still hurting for the underdog :). So maybe it is climax and the thrill from all the drama….hmm.

  2. gud question.. and even i have had the thoughts sumtimes as to why most of them want the underdog to win (if there is no personal favorite involved)… it may be because to get a gud game. Most of them know that Federer is a far better player than Roddick and Roddick has to come up with something special to win.. and if he does.. Federer wil also have to raise his game several notches.. which wil leave the audience rich in a quality game of tennis…

    and one important factor is…. we would have got bored of seeing one man/team winning all the time..and we want someone else to break his run…

  3. It was really a close game till the end! Somehow I thought only Federer will win at the beginning, but changed my opinion and wanted Roddick to win the 4th set and the game to make the match more interesting. And should say the game was interesting till the end. Roddick played better against Federer than Murray, but Federer had the luck. I wanted the underdog to win yesterday not just to make the game more interesting but I thought he really deserved it, at least this time….

  4. I usually root for the underdog,but yesterday i was rooting for federer.Federer proved again why he is a great champion.
    I feel happy if someone unlikely wins because it means anyone can achieve anything if they give their mind to it and work hard.And th achievement is not limited to the talented ones and it gives us hope.

  5. In this instance, I agree with Anila – Federer rocked 🙂 I think the reason to root for the underdog is probably as it has a fairy tale feel to it – gives everyone hope I think, you need not be the best but if you are willing to put in enough effort, you might actually succeed – sort of a poetic finish and much romanticized. For a sports lover, when the underdog performs well (most often it happens, when the crowd is egging him to), you are in for a treat as the champion ups his game a notch and end result, a good (if not a great) game, most of the times.

  6. I second Anila and Akay’s comments. I think when an underdog emerges victorious, it gives one an impression that acquired skills can outshine gifted talents. Not to say that Roddick is not naturally gifted or Federer did not sweat it out. That day more than anything else, it was a battle of will and mind. Sports has a lot of inspiration and life lessons to offer.

  7. @altoid: Well expressed. I guess if you put it that way Andy did deserve to win.
    @Shankar: Thats exactly what K says!
    @Sudha: I think he did too. Next time maybe?
    @Anila: Very well said. You have put it very succinctly.
    @Akay: Totally agree. But then I have always been partial to Federer which explains why I wanted him to win.
    @Suman: Sports does. Any wonder why most of my lessons have sports related examples in them? ;p

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