Monday, September 28, 2009

Rooting for U. S. Steel

I had a good weekend. The NY Yankees clinched the American League East, and the NY Giants shut out Tampa Bay.

I've been a Yankee fan since childhood, but even as my interest has waxed and waned over the years, I am happy when they do well.

It was said during the 1950s that "rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for U. S. Steel." Which got me wondering why people choose to root for the underdog.

There are some tentative explanations on the web: and

But I am wondering how philosophers of sport think about the question . . . why do we root for the underdog? Should we root for the underdog?


Carl Thomen said...

Jim, I'm sure no one is morally obligated to root for the underdog, but having played in and coached more than a few "underdog" teams, I can guess why I do it... It's always great to see an underdog win because it affirms our intuitive belief that nothing is impossible, regardless of what the experts say or the odds one faces (Cliche: no game is won on paper, despite overwhelming adversity etc).
Sometimes I just love to see the "stronger" team/player lose (e.g. Manchester United, Chelsea or the Australian cricket team) even though this feeling is concurrent with a deep respect for their sporting prowess.
I think there is also a natural human inclination to value the "try-hards" over the "naturals"; when you see a bunch of guys whose talent is simply playing for each other beat a team of ridiculously talented individuals it reaffirms your faith in the concept of humanity: we can acheive great things together.

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