Is Our Love For Underdogs Rooted In Something More?

What is it that causes us to love an underdog?

And is that even true, or do we really love an underdog that goes on to win?  I believe it could be the latter.

An underdog is nothing more than a regular player on a baseball team.  An average tennis player.  The neighbor who is growing a business out of their garage.  That’s until they experience some level of success and show the ability to rival the star players, the industry leader, the reigning champ.

At that point, the underdog takes a step closer to becoming a star them self.  And we want them to do it with all of our heart.  When it happens, we soar!  It’s all we can talk about at work the next day, reliving the experience over and over with our co-workers and friends.  “I can’t believe it!” we say.  “Unbelievable!”

It’s almost as if we experienced the victory ourselves.

But when the underdog falls short, we’re crushed.  The next day we say things like, “She was so close.”  “I’m so disappointed.”  “Maybe next time.”  “I really wanted it for them.”

Emotionally, it’s as if we fell short.

You’ve probably heard people say the reason we identify with underdogs is because we see ourselves in them.  We see ourselves as underdogs.

It sounds good, but I don’t know if that’s true or not.

Perhaps though there’s another reason.  And I have no idea if it’s true, but I’ll try it on you anyways.

That reason is Jesus.  The man in whose likeness we are made.

This man, this son of God, was born outside in a shack.  He was placed in what was an animal trough filled with hay.  There was no hospital with a birthing wing with state-of-the-art technology, highly trained doctors, nurses, and midwives and comfy beds.

There weren’t any cute pictures of farm animals on the wall.  There were actual farm animals!

He became a carpenter, not a CEO.  Not a star athlete.  He was a construction worker.  While completely honorable and important, I don’t have to tell you this is not a profession society holds up as the end all be all.  It’s a common man’s job.

He hung out with average Joes and the poor, not the upper crust of society or the perceived elite.  I don’t think Warren Buffet and Jesus would have been BFFs or even Facebook friends.  Although he would have rocked on Twitter, dropping 140 character, life-changing tweets with gusto!  But I digress.

Jesus was betrayed by a trusted friend, which led to his arrest, torture and placement on a cross between two common criminals where he would die for all to see.

He was used to send a message.  A message that said, “We, the elite and mighty are in charge and control destiny, even your destiny.  If this man is the son of God, how is it possible that he now hang on this cross dead?  It isn’t possible.”

Well, we know how that ended up.  Jesus was wrapped in cloth, placed in a tomb and of course rose again.

Jesus – the baby from humble beginnings, the carpenter, the commoner, the defeated – the underdog came back to life to win the big game.  To save us.

Is it possible the reason we adore the underdog isn’t because we see ourselves in them but that we see our savior?

The next time you find yourself rooting for an underdog, I encourage you to consider this.  You just might find your heart soaring regardless of whether they win or lose.

Question:  What do you think?


6 thoughts on “Is Our Love For Underdogs Rooted In Something More?

  1. I can see Jesus as being an underdog but have never thought about how we might go for the underdog because of seeing Jesus in them/other people. Jesus was the ultimate underdog and since humans reflect His image I think your on to something. Great thoughts.

  2. Joel, this is a tremendous reminder of the beauty of the redemption story. I think there is a God-given innate desire in us to defeat odds and overcome obstacles, something we can only truly do for eternity through Jesus. Great perspective! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Huh – I had never considered that. Jesus did come in a very lowly manner in many ways. I think it was to illustrate to us what’s truly important. I’ll have to chew on that next time I root for the underdog!

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