Bracket Underdogs

by Rich on March 12, 2018

College basketball post season is here and as much as it pains me to admit it, I’m hooked. I know I have mentioned this before, but the whole basketball thing is pretty foreign to me. Just haven’t been a fan. But now I am. And I fully admit that my fandom is due to one fact and one fact only: my Alma Mater is winning.

For the first time in 15 years, “my” school is going dancing. They shouldn’t be, if you had listened to the pundits and experts at the beginning of the season. Depending on who you listened to, you would be forgiven for believing that said school would either not reach post-season play at all, or that the whole team would be locked up in a federal stockade before conference play began. Thankfully, neither of those things happened.

Despite injuries, despite controversy, despite negative attention, this school has overcome obstacle after obstacle and is now poised to make a run into the crazy world of bracketology. And that’s a cool story and it has me intrigued and glued to my TV, radio and phone. But it also got me thinking about this school’s underdog, “us against the world” mentality.

Here’s the thing… the more I look at the sports landscape, the more I am beginning to realize that, while there are some true, legitimate underdogs in virtually sport scenario, they are probably more rare than fan bases would like to admit. But the reality is, that, unless you cheer for a top tier, exclusive level team like the New England Patriots, University of Alabama football, or UConn women’s basketball, you probably see your team as an underappreciated, disrespected underdog. Like I said, some of that is legit. But a lot of it is perception and personal bias.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that is necessarily a bad thing. We all take the circumstances around us in our lives and use them to motivate us. For coaches, athletes and fans, who are often super competitive, that often means viewing the season landscape through somewhat skewed glasses. And that’s ok. But the more sports I consume in my life, the more I realize that these perceptions that many fan bases assume are fairly unique, are, in fact, quite common.

Think about it… other than the above mentioned “blue bloods”, what fan that you know doesn’t see themselves and their team as some type of underdog? And when I say “underdog”, I don’t necessarily mean that they think their team is David in the David versus Goliath showdown. I just mean that they usually see their team as being persecuted, undervalued, overlooked or disrespected. Seriously… almost all of them.

But that’s part of what makes things like “March Madness” so much fun! Almost ALL of us think our team is the underdog, even if they happen to be the national favorite. None of them get the respect we think they deserve (sidebar: this whole “respect” thing has gotten out of hand. Just win. Who cares?), and none of them are portrayed fairly in the media (using our personal definition of “fair”).

So, my team is clearly the underdog. They have overcome unimaginable obstacles. They get zero respect. Their level of success is not truly appreciated. And I love it! Bring it on! March Madness is here and I’m hooked!

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