“I always root for the underdog.” I hear that a lot.

I don’t, so sometimes I ask why. Usually the answer is something along the lines of wanting the little guy to succeed.

But why? Has the little guy earned it?

When it comes to sports, I don’t often pick a side, as the success of one athlete or team over another has no bearing on my life.

That doesn’t mean I’m not a fan of sports in general. I love watching professional sports. Those athletes are amazing.

You know what I love watching even more? Dominance.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to watch an AYSO beatdown or rec league ringer talent show. I understand that in life not everyone has the same opportunities, and in those circumstances I will often root for the little guy who’s working his ass off. But I’m not talking about everyday life. I’m talking about professional sports, where the best of the best compete.

If I’m going to spend my time watching professionals, I want to watch them execute. Perfectly. Because they can. Because they’ve put in the work, practice, sweat, pain, perseverance, and time. Because they’ve done it and tweaked it and done it over and over again until it’s a reflex. Until they’re dominant.

Consistently dominant.

It takes a lot more to be consistently dominant than to win by chance.

That’s why I don’t root for the underdog. I like to see hard work pay off.

I started this post right after the Rousey/Correia fight. It took me almost a month to finish, but well, I’ve been busy. Busy working hard.


  1. I don’t think there are any actual underdogs in pro sports. Pretty much the ones that have become that level of “good” and can achieve “domination through perfection” are taken in by the teams that can leverage their wealth/status/staff/reputation/whatever and build a team of dominating players. If it were still about the sport, this would be a real treat to watch. Can you imagine a team of the most amazing athletes performing at their peak at whatever it is they are great at? Poetry, art, euphoric, and lots of other descriptive terms. Sadly it’s more about money and advertising dollars, so marquee players tend to get grabbed up and spread around (which leagues help to make happen with salary caps, free agents, etc.). That’s great for people watching at home so they don’t watch the same team crush everyone else every weekend (bad for $$$), but it doesn’t give you a pure view of the sport at the highest levels. Pretty much anyone at the pro level has been training and playing since they were a child, then all through primary schools and then college. That level of training and coaching doesn’t leave an “underdog” to be found in my opinion.

    Bruce Lee said something like “I don’t fear the man that has practiced 10,000 punches one time. I fear the man that has practiced one punch 10,000 times.” I subscribe to that philosophy (even though I’m probably not quoting it correctly…), and I love to watch a person doing anything that they are supremely qualified to do based on past practice, work, perseverance and all the other qualities you described up there. I think that’s where the underdog rooting comes from – we know these guys are supposed to be great. We get jaded by the constant greatness. It’s appreciated, but expected. It’s when the small guy comes up from the back of the line and wows us that we wake up and get excited. That’s not supposed to happen, why is he/she so good? Who is that? Etc. It’s like watching a Ferrari go 0-100 in XX seconds. Yawn, we expected that. It’s when the Yugo does it (no matter that it’s a Yugo body on a Ferrari engine and chassis) that we get knocked out of our jaded view of things, at least for a minute.

    My 2 cents, at least. Now in convenient rambling form… :-)

    • “That’s not supposed to happen, why is he/she so good?”

      It is fun to watch. I’ve certainly been pleasantly surprised by upsets.

      I guess since it’s the highlights and not the outcome that really do it for me, it’s generally the dominant parties that provide the most wow.

      I’d love to see a Yugorrari in action.

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