“America loves an underdog.” I’ve heard that quote, or some variation thereof, a few times in my life. There are times when it seems abundantly true. However, I’m starting to wonder if it’s really about loving the underdog or hating the successful.
I’m particularly talking about the Super Bowl right now. Seattle is by no means an underdog. Pete Carroll is a fantastic coach with one of the class-of-the-league teams in the NFL. In fact, some lines have them the favorite. But considering Belichick’s Patriots and their 14-year-long streak of success Seattle is seen more as the underdog in the historical sense. And you can see it in the large number of Patriot haters out there. My brother even mentioned in passing something to the effect of people seeming to have no reason to hate the Patriots other than their success.
It’s a shame that a team that is dominant for so long invariably falls out of favor with a large swath of the public. No, I’m not speaking scientifically here, it’s just an observation from the comments I choose to read on the internet and discussions with customers (on those occasions when sports come up). People just hate the Patriots. But they’ve had a great record for fourteen years now by following a great game plan with the right personnel. Why should this be rooted against? Fortunately, except in the case of certain franchises (cough-cough RAIDERS), developing that winning game plan should be copied with the necessary modifications for your team. But the public doesn’t seem to want that. Of course, should Seattle win another one and take the torch from New England, then it won’t be long before they become one of the hated teams – all for success.
I think the Jerry Sandusky molestation case serves to illustrate this point further. I’m not saying Joe Paterno is untouchable, but not a single person in the investigation or prosecution considered bringing up any charges against Paterno. Yet when the internet trolls took to the comments sections the venom unleashed upon the successful was in full force. According to our well-informed commenters Paterno and the entire football program from coaches to players knew exactly the crimes Jerry Sandusky was committing and swept them under the rug. For some, it seemed like it was time to bring the successful down and rip them to shreds. Perhaps a bad example, and certainly risky to bring up, but I do feel Paterno’s success as a coach made him an even bigger target for the internet trolls.
At its core, I believe it to be fueled by jealousy. People want to see their teams win – so they root against the successful team. When the successful team continues to be successful, the jealousy turns to a hatred of the team. Sadly I think this is reflected in our lives, as well. But that is another blog for another time.