I can’t say that I have been a soccer fan for long. Growing up in Texas, most of my childhood was focused on football, basketball, and baseball. As a result, those were my favorite sports, both to watch and play. Throughout my childhood, I realized that there are teams that seemed like everyone disliked. These included the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Dallas Cowboys, and more. As I was young, I didn’t understand why no one liked those teams, but as I understand the rules of sports, I learned. Those teams were able to buy every player that hit free agency, and they won because of it. I realized that it’s no fun to root for the teams that could try to buy their way to championships.
But for every New York Yankees, there is a team like the Oakland Athletics. A team that defies all odds, grows their own talent, and makes a run at a championship. Teams like the 2011 Butler Bulldogs’ basketball team, the 2003-2004 Detroit Pistons, and the 1980 Men’s U.S. Hockey team helped me understand what an underdog was: a team that defies the odds, and turns the majority of neutral fans on their side. That’s the beauty of an underdog. No one is excited to see the Los Angeles Lakers win their 17th title. No one wants to see the Yankees buy more players and get to the World Series. Everyone wants to see a scrappy little Butler Bulldogs team beat the Duke Blue Devils (except for us in Durham, that is). People love to see David slay the Goliath, and that’s what makes an underdog so special, because people can see the top teams that they already dislike go down to an extremely likeable team.
This season in the Premier League, there has been a classic underdog story: Leicester City was 5000/1 odds of winning the Premier League. As of today, those odds are 1/5. They have defeated typical “Goliaths” such as Manchester City, and are ahead in the standings of “Goliaths” like Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton, and more. The only team left that is able to mathematically win the league title is the Tottenham Hotspur, which is becoming less and less likely. Throughout the season, the Foxes have turned neutral fans into fans rooting for the unbelievable and unlikely. That is the true beauty of the underdog, to turn other teams’ fans into one’s own fans to help make a title run. I can say that I have been turned into a Leicester fan this season, and I hope that everyone can experience the beauty that they have caused. In my opinion Leicester is the greatest underdog that I have ever seen in any sport, and I hope that we all thankful for the history that we have been lucky enough to witness.
Innes, Richard. “How the Odds on Leicester Winning the Premier League Went from 5000/1 to 1/5.” Mirror. N.p., 24 Apr. 2016. Web. 24 Apr. 2016. <http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/row-zed/how-odds-leicester-winning-premier-7736523>.