Last night, I went to the gym for a run on the treadmill. I hopped on and turned the attached TV to ESPN. I saw there was a college basketball game on. I don’t have any real interest in college basketball, but I left it on because it was something sporty to watch. As I ran, I was in my own world, happy to be moving my body and listening to music on my iPOD. I was sort of watching the game and saw that it was unranked BUTLER vs #9 ranked North Carolina. Because I do follow sports in general, I know UNC is always a powerhouse basketball team and has a legacy of great teams. The game had only been on for a few minutes, but already Butler had a big lead..more than 10 points. And so, it caught my attention. How was this “little” team beating UNC? So, I started watching more closely and I clearly saw how Butler was in the lead; they were OUT HUSTLING UNC! Those Butler kids were getting to all the loose balls, getting the offensive and defensive rebounds and making many 3 point shots. They seemed quicker and hungrier. And this is exactly what I love about UNDERDOGS…whether it’s a team, an individual; whether its sports related of just LIFE in general….I love the EFFORT, the HUSTLE, the DETERMINATION. I love to see all those things put forth and watch it completely ignite a person or a team and be such a huge catalyst going forward. And, this is one of the reasons I love SPORT…because I don’t even have to care about the teams or know anything about them to gain something from watching. Sport teaches. Period. In a world where many negative news stories are out there about individuals and teams, etc…I prefer to pay attention and focus on the lessons, the inspiration, the motivation. And yes, I love the Underdog and will continually root for them.
Where did that come from?? Well, I grew up with 2 older brothers and one liked our local Oakland Raiders and the other one liked the Minnesota Vikings (have no idea why). We were watching football one day and The Cleveland Browns were playing. Brian Sipe was the QB and Ozzie Newsome was the TE. They had NO emblem on their Orange helmets and they were the underdog. Well, right then and there, when I was about 10 years old, i picked ‘em to be my team. 32 years later, they are still my team. For those who don’t know, The Browns have been more bad then good. They are currently 2-8 this season and if they win 2 more games before season is over, that would be a victory in my mind. They have had losing seasons for MANY years now and yes, I still remain a fan. I don’t just mean sort of losing seasons, I mean real ugly losing seasons. It seems they have a new QB or a new coach every year. They had some of the best and most fun years to watch during the late 1980′s and some in the 1990′s. I guess I really have 2 points to this part of my post; that I am loyal, loyal, loyal and even though I watch other football teams and am envious of the better teams, I am sure I will never switch my allegiance. I have even made about 4 different trips to Cleveland to watch the games. The fan loyalty is unreal and unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I am proud to be a fan and even still, each week, I hope they will keep playing better and eek out some wins. Last Sunday, I watched the game vs Dallas and the browns surprisingly had a 13-0 lead at halftime. I was ecstatic, but I was not optimistic it would last. But, I hoped. How had they gotten the lead vs Dallas in Dallas? Just like Butler, they were out playing their opponent. They were NOT the better team, but they were playing better. At least for half of the game. Dallas turned it around and tied the game and won in overtime. I guess this brings me to my 2nd point; you don’t ever quit before the game starts. It would be easy for someone or a team to think they are beaten BEFORE the game even begins…I mean just look at the records of the teams. But, the Browns don’t quit. They play hard and give all they have. As a fan, that is what you want to see. Sure, I want to see them win, but it will take more than the players…they need better coaches, better management and BETTER SCOUTS.
At the end of the day, I also view myself as an underdog. This characterization was much more applicable earlier in my life, but I still think of myself this way. I see nothing wrong with it. It has pushed me to be as successful as a person as I can be. It has kept my humble and to never take anything for granted. I am not someone who is the best at anything, but my mindset is the same today as it was 20 years ago: keep working hard. Stay positive. Don’t let anything keep you down or prevent you from succeeding.