The Almighty Underdog

The young Underdog strikes the raw emotions of any audience. We all love to be surprised. We all loved to see a new champion be crowned King. And the Underdogs of 2014 have not disappointed.

The Australian Open brought forth a major upset. First-time Grand Slam winner Stanislas Wawrinka was the first to dominate both #2 seeded Djokovic and #1 seeded Rafael Nadal in the same tournament, both holding multiple Grand Slams titles, quite overpowering and intimidating over Stan’s lone one.

One year ago, at the Cincinnati Open, Stan was just a regular guy — or as regular as it gets for an internationally top-50 ranked tennis player. But still, he sat at a table a few feet from us at a restaurant, peacefully; while next year, he is sure to come back and be bombarded with dozens of autograph and picture requests. A short while ago, he was living in the shadows of his fellow countryman, the brilliant Roger Federer; now, his own ranking has surpassed the Swiss legend’s. He faced Nadal 13 times before beating him at the Aussie Open final, yet maintained a cool, humble facade all throughout. He is the ultimate Underdog.

For some reason, the Underdog has always painted a very intense picture in my head. I’ve always had the perception of a weak, scrawny fighter taking punch after punch after punch, falling to the ground, struggling to stand on two feet despite his bruised body and ego, and getting the last shot to take out the bad guy. Of course, it’s not always that violent though. (That image was solely a result of too many cheesy Bollywood movies and a heroic standard that every girl holds for a boy).

This has changed though, because I’ve now realized that it doesn’t take a random burst of strength or miracle for the Underdog to win. He wins on his merit, and most importantly on the same level of competition as his opponent — and that’s the extraordinary part. The Underdog status isn’t a measure of ability or talent. It’s the amount of hype (or lack of, rather) that surrounds him. And hype can be a dangerous thing.

Just look at all the hype pinned around the Broncos and Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl. All crushed by the victorious Seahawks.

Our world, of sports, music, dance, drama, business, politics, and every other path imaginable, needs the underdogs. They challenge the status quo. They break barriers. They give us a unique sense of faith. But they aren’t weaker than the competition. They just aren’t as hyped up. Even that doesn’t faze them though because they come out of the shadows and always prove us wrong.

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