In this world, we have read, cheered and celebrated the misfortunes of the favorites and elevated the dreams and aspirations of the underdog with unbelievable odds yet showing little mercy for those who dominate or are extremely gifted. It is perhaps the way that the weak and the common man cope with defeat and gets back at those with talent. I’ve seen this phenomenon occur repeatedly in two countries my whole life. I’ve seen little to not even a shadow of remorse for cheering against the top guy. In the bible alone, we have read and came know and appreciate a number of favorite underdog stories that illustrates the former including the story of David and Goliath, Gideon versus the Midianites, Moses against Pharaoh, and Daniel and Babylon. Have you ever heard anyone celebrating the strength of Goliath against David? I haven’t ever heard anyone cheering for the Midianites over Gideon, either… Have you?
I am not sure if always cheering for the underdog is necessarily ethical, fair, or for a lack of a better word… right. Don’t you have pity for those who are talented or have an alternative reality to what you might see if what they have to offer is of value, ethical or right? I do you should have also. Why am I saying this? Because in my life, I have had in a number of occasions been in the shoes of the favorite and man I tell you… It sucks to have everyone on the face of earth going after you because you are using your God’s gift, being successful, and they aren’t. In the 80’s, I cheered for Ivan Lendl in tennis against his arch enemy, Boris Becker. Why? Because Ivan Lendl was ranked number one in the world. Back then, I was ranked number one in my state ranking in golf in my state. You know? I sympathized with Lendl in tennis where everyone else I knew hated him because he was too good. I have always cheered for Mike Tyson not his opponents because I appreciated the myth of Mike Tyson and the history he was making. I also cheered for Larry Bird and became a fan of the Boston Celtics because they used to win big. Celebrating talent is as important as cheering for the underdog. At least, it is in my book.
There are a number of ways in which you can cheer against the underdog and still justify your position with honor and respect. In this article, I will share with you three ways that you can do that with dignity.
- Use the favorite’s talents to teach your kids life lessons. I am not aware of too many talented athletes, engineers, educators or therapists who win games and make fun of others directly. The reason why is because if they choose to be a jackass, sooner or later their talent will dry up and they themselves will pay a huge price for it. In golf, I have always cheered for Arnold Palmer. Why? Because he was very talented and won several major golf championships. Today, I use a number of his well known talents, e.g., being honorable to his family, having a strict regiment of professional practice which leads to perfection, and never giving up to teach students to succeed. I emphasize to many of my students and coworkers that working in your talent is paramount for success. I don’t use underdog stories to teach them lessons. I would rather cite talent.
- When a well executed strategy is put in place, winning becomes a consequence. Contrary to what many believe, those who are successful and are leaders in their crafts aren’t lazy and strategize like anyone else, and want to win. Why is the former a bad thing? Why is seeing Pete Sampras win 14 majors in tennis a bad thing? I see no need to cheer for anybody simply because they are the underdog. In my opinion, success is rarely (maybe never) an accident. Quite frankly, I think that success is a consequence of a series of very well executed strategies combined with talent. Why should we condemn that in the name of the underdog? We should celebrate victory regardless of whether a person is an underdog or not because in this life, there is always a need to explain to others the importance of starting and ending tasks with success and dreaming. Sure, if the underdog does his work and wins the cup, great! But wishing for anybody to lose simply because they are great will never fly with me.
- In reality, the odds are against both favorites and underdogs, anyways. I am not aware of anyone who has always won every game or got all the available job promotions. In fact, the odds of success are quite slim if we put into the equation the the options that we are given in this life. The great American general George Patton was fired, despite his many victories in world war II. The iconic Charles Schwab was so successful for a while in finance but died in bankruptcy. Even Jack Welch, the great GE CEO experienced defeat and got fired early on in his career. Where is Ian Baker Finch? I know, I know… You may not even know who he is which in itself proves my point that in this life, nobody, absolutely no one can win every time and forever. In the end, lads… it is like Vegas. The house always win. Sooner or later, Pete Sampras is faced with a Rafael Nadal, Magic Johnson meets Lebron James, and that good President you had leading your company or school is replaced by the great new incoming President. Today, Tom Brady became the most successful quarterback in the history of the NFL. Tomorrow, I bet somebody will take his crown and he will become more human to everyone. It is just like how life evolves and progresses, I guess.
In this world, we have read, cheered and celebrated the misfortunes of the favorites and elevated the dreams and aspirations of the underdog with unbelievable odds yet showing little mercy for those who dominate or are extremely gifted. I’ve seen this phenomenon occur repeatedly in two countries my whole life. What if I tell you that perhaps, we shouldn’t always be against the favorite or leading authority in a field or sport? There is value in celebrating talent, I must say. There are a number of ways in which you can cheer against the underdog and still justify your position with honor and respect. You can use the favorite’s talents to teach your kids life lessons, you should be able to share with others the importance of implementing a well executed strategy, and that in the end, nobody wins all the time and forever. Do yourself a favor — celebrate success regardless of if the person winning is the underdog or not.