Why We Love Underdogs

The Monday feature of the Worldly Saints blog focuses on a story from the sports world – current or historic. The point is to recognize athletes who are using their sports and athletic abilities to further the kingdom of God or to show how some athletes are wasting their days by not giving God the glory.

March Madness is upon us. And in our home, the TV has been on more than usual as even my wife and kids are interested in most of the outcomes of the games this year. Gone are all the teams I was cheering for – OU Sooners, Wichita State Shockers, OSU Cowboys, and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

Now, when you lose teams to cheer for in this national tournament, there are plenty of good teams with good stories to get behind and root on. And I don’t know about you, but I find myself getting behind an underdog – or a team that is has the most unlikely chance to win it all but is playing good enough to beat the better teams,

You ever do that? Do you ever cheer for the underdog? I believe most of us do.

Many of us remember cheering on George Mason in 2006 or Wichita State in 2013 as these small schools upset some of the “big boys” on their way to the Final Four.

We love the underdogs. We love seeing David beat Goliath. We love seeing Gideon and his army of 300 taken down several hundred thousand Midianites. And we love seeing teams from seemingly unknown parts of the country beat athletic programs that are nationally known and have had much success.

Why do we do this? Ever thought of that? Why are we – especially Christians – prone to root for the underdog? I believe it goes beyond just the novelty of seeing the unlikely happen in sports. I actually think there is an underlying spiritual reason we like cheering for underdogs.

Let me take you to Paul’s words in I Corinthians 1:26-29 – “26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

God isn’t looking for the most impressive resumes to bring into the kingdom. He isn’t looking for the richest man or the strongest man or the smartest man. He is looking for the underdog.

None of us is special. None of us have anything resonating within us that is impressive to God. God relishes the idea of choosing ordinary people. And He loves to do this so he gets the glory, as Paul would later write in II Corinthians 12:9 – “… My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

When God saves a common man and uses him to do something spectacular, God gets the glory.

We love to cheer on the underdog because the underdog is common. There is nothing special about him. Often times, underdog basketball teams are filled with athletes who couldn’t get scholarships at any bigger schools, who couldn’t afford to go anywhere else or just wanted to stick closer to home. These are “common folk.”

We love to cheer on the underdog because all of us are underdogs! All of us are common folk coming from ordinary places. Cheering on the underdog is like cheering for God to save those foolish people to shame the wise and to use them for His glorious purposes.

Maybe I am stretching here, but I think there may be something to all of this.

So if you are a March Madness fan, there are still some good underdogs out there to root on. Their bandwagons have room for you. I am sure the Dayton Flyers wouldn’t mind having a few more fans.


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