In America, we love underdogs. Who is an underdog, you might ask. We are all underdogs, that's why we love them. This is a nation of underdogs, filled with people expelled or mistreated by others, immigrants or badly treated native peoples. We pull ourselves up from our bootstraps, we prevail against amazing odds, we fight. That is why we love us, Americans. Fighting as underdogs is what we do best.
I am watching the Kansas City Chiefs play the Green Bay Packers. My husband has been sure we were going to lose and lose badly. We still might, the game is not over. All predictions have been that the Chiefs will lose: a) the Packers are the defending Super Bowl champs; 2) the Chiefs have played HORRIBLY this season; 3) the Chiefs fired their coach last week after a particularly horrendously played Chiefs game; 4) the Chiefs don't have a starting quarterback; and, 5) Arrowhead stadium is packed with Packers fans. The Chiefs are ahead now and they may ultimately lose, but this is a classic UNDERDOG game. Ergo, the Chiefs will probably win.
The Underdog Syndrome is a common phenomenon in American society. We love underdogs and want to be underdogs. Let's talk about which groups in this country relish in their underdog status:
1) Tea Partiers, harkening back to the Revolutionary War days when American Patriots were outnumbered by the British loyalists;
2) Occupy Wall Street (and the Occupy movements in all major cities) - we are all part of the 99% of underdogs, except for that 1%, who largely want to be in the 99%, e.g. , Warren Buffett who wants to pay taxes like the underdogs but Congress won't let him.
3) Any sports team whose owners pay less money and who aren't the New York Yankees. Don't most of us want those Steinbrenners to get their comeuppance?
We relate to underdogs because most of us have had to work hard to get what we have. We have no royalty in this country and we have little respect for those who are handed wealth or power with no work. Why else is Warren Buffett giving most of his billions to charity, so as not to corrupt his kids. Why do Americans love Harry Truman, Bill Clinton, and Barak Obama - three people who worked hard to achieve. No inherited power or money for those Presidents.
We love Rocky, the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, and Lance Armstrong the cancer survivor. When an underdog wins against great odds, we believe that he or she is our standard-bearer, and maybe, just maybe we can win against great odds, too. When an underdog wins, we believe we can win, too. We can beat Walmart in lawsuits, or the banking giants. Whistleblowers can prevail if they do the right thing and their cause is just. Powerful companies can be defeated when they hurt individuals. Underdogs keep us believing that maybe there is some justice. The big, mighty and powerful don't always win. Underdogs keep us fighting.
I really don't care that much about football, but I am deeply involved in this game. It is important to me, right now, that the Chiefs win. They may not win but, gosh I hope they do. Go underdogs! Go Chiefs!