Here’s to the Underdog

One of the key elements of a good inspiring story is the underdog.  Which by definition is one who is expected to lose, one who is at a disadvantage or in a position of inferiority.  Why is it that everyone loves to root for the underdog?

A co-worker of mine, coaches a boy’s soccer team in Pasadena. Team Haggis (as they named themselves) has had quite the season.  Every Monday the hot topic in the office has been how the Haggis boys did in their soccer game over the weekend. James has been coaching and attempting to inspire and motivate the boys all season; and each week there was some tale of adversity that kept victory at bay.  Injured players, missed goals, a game against the top team in the league, etc.

Even though I never personally attended a game, I found myself becoming a fan of these lovable losers. Week after week, these boys hit the field full of potential, only to be once again defeated.  They did win a few and finished the season out at 3-2-5 and ended up 10th out 12th place in the league.  Somehow, in spite of a dismal record, Haggis found themselves in the playoffs with a chance to win the whole enchilada.  James and I chuckled at the odds of having the record like that and ending up in the playoffs.  All teams were eligible, regardless of their season record.  The odds were certainly stacked against them and I must admit, I didn’t have very high hopes for the boys of team Haggis.

The Monday after the last game, I asked James how Haggis fared in their post season.  James’ face lit up with a smile and a chuckle as he shared that Haggis took the whole thing…they won the championship game and were now proceeding to a regional tournament game. This was nothing short of a miracle and certainly not a predictable outcome.  He was so proud as he shared that after months being defeated, these boys finally had mustered up the confidence to believe in themselves and they won the big game….in spite of the odds.

I found myself touched by this story, as it was a good reminder.  That in spite of what’s in front of us, be it obstacles or impossible circumstances, that anything is still possible.  When success looks like it’s alluding us and failure the likely outcome it’s easy to become defeated, to give up, to quit, to judge ourselves and to feel like a failure.  However, the key is to keep showing up, to keep playing, in spite of the defeat, the skinned knees and the bruised ego.  The miracle and victory, may be just around the corner, beyond where the eye can see or the mind can think.

Why is it that everyone loves to root for the underdog?  I think it’s because it gives us hope.  Hope that our own adversities can have a happy ending. That we’ll see better days. That a miracle can happen at any moment.

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