Why the World Cheers for Underdogs Like Croatia and Kevin Anderson

Sports

Why the World Cheers for Underdogs Like Croatia and Kevin Anderson

Illustration: Arati Gujar

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’m not the type you’d expect to find reading holy books, but there is one story from The Bible that has always stuck with me – the tale of David and Goliath. It’s one of humankind’s earliest underdog stories, and it’s endured for millennia simply because none of us are immune to the appeal of the underdog. The brave, young boy who felled a giant with a stone showed us that with grit, hustle, and hard work, even the worst odds can be overcome. The tale of the underdog – that we all believe we are – gives us hope that we will prevail.

It’s a comforting fantasy, which is why we love to see it play out over and over. And there are few arenas as well-suited to scripting an underdog story like sports. It doesn’t matter what game is being played, an unlikely upset burns brighter than an easy victory. Our moviemakers seem to have wisened up to this fact, evidenced by how all great sports films are underdog stories, from Rocky to Lagaan to Chak De! India.

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