April 05, 2010
Rooting for the Overdog
Posted by Erik Gerding

My six year old and I will be rooting hard for Duke tonight. We make no apologies. Do we feel any guilt given the prevalent underdog story? If you want a good Duke/Butler underdog story, go read Remains of the Day. (Or put it in your Netflix queue; it’s like The Blind Side! Same uplifting themes.)

Let’s clear a few things up about the underdog myth. First, I find it hard to think of Duke as ever being a true favorite given that the team is one of the most widely detested in American sports. Rooting for Duke builds character, I tell my son.

Second, “everyone loves an underdog” can be countered with “everyone loves a winner.” Americans love the scrappy, come-from-nowhere, David fighting Goliath. Except for when we don’t. For every Miracle on Ice, there is a Dream Team demolishing Angola.

Third, do we really need a treacly narrative for every sports story? I don’t need a Jim Nantz-narrated docu-melo-drama to get me interested in basketball any more than I need Ken Burns or George Will to over-intellectualize baseball. Newsflash – sports is not a metaphor for life – either yours or mine.

What’s truly great about basketball, Duke and otherwise, is that there is no arguing with the pure truth of a good jumpshot falling through the net.

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