It was 1976 and a sports comedy, The Bad News Bears, arrived on the big screen. Being baseball was an all-in-the-family sport at our house; we were looking forward to some laughs and family time.
The Bad News Bears stars Walter Matthau and Tatum O’Neil; celebrating misfit baseball players who are considered outsiders with no chance of making it to the championship let alone winning a game.
The mindset was comforting to me as I struggled to find my way through an overload of sports my father threw my way; softball, track, basketball, volleyball – you name it, I tried it. My dad was a marathon runner as well but as much as I loved my father and wanted to make him proud, I would rather stick a needle in my eye than run. We all have our niche and running endlessly was not my cup of tea.
The Bad News Bears was my first introduction to society bestowing the undesired cold shoulder to misfits. It left a relatable impression on me as I, too, knew I was not naturally talented in many sports. It didn’t stop me from finding my niche, but the bandwagon of popularity was prevalent even back then.
My dad coached baseball from the time my older brother was nine, starting with Little League, moving up to the Babe Ruth league, and then graduating to the big boys of Joe DiMaggio. He coached and then managed all of my brother’s baseball teams as I was the batgirl with the bell bottoms and the oversized Goody comb in my back pocket and my mom was the scorekeeper with a smile.
We lived, ate, and slept baseball.
I learned some sparkling language along the way; especially from the old vets at the Veterans Home when we played our Joe DiMaggio games there.
Through the years I became an expert at eating sunflower seeds, blowing bubbles and chanting the ol’ baseball rants, such as, “We want a pitcher, not a belly itcher.”When my son started playing baseball he strongly advised me to refrain from the old school chants as they are not politically correct anymore. In order to avoid being shunned by the other parents, I quietly clapped my hands in the bleachers and learned how to cheer on my son’s team like a lady. BORING.
When it comes to sports teams, I tend to support the underdogs; intentional avoidance of ever succumbing to being a bandwagon fan of any sport. Too many times you see a major league team have support due their high marketing budget or winning record. I agree that we all love a winner but what about the underdog struggling for that win when all odds are against them?
For me, there is something encouraging about the competitor thought to have little chance of winning who pulls off the impossible.
Throughout life, I embrace the challenges when the “naysayers” thought I would fail. Never did I feel I had to prove anything to anyone other than myself.
Taking the underdog mentality goes beyond professional sports. Embrace who you are.
Whether your boss feels you are not skilled enough to take the lead on a project or critics think your grand idea is lackluster, underdog expectations have been proven to motivate us.
What happens when someone clearly expects us to fail? Depending on your personality, it motivates us to either prove them wrong or prove it to ourselves, which often leads to performing better.
Underdogs are humble by nature. Remember that we all fall short at times in this life and expectations can make or break us.
Life is filled with insurmountable obstacles and a supportive and determined framework of believing in yourself, against all odds, can clear the fear and doubt that hold you back.
Life is short. Go for it.
Don’t allow any fear of looking stupid hold you back. There is always a place for us underdogs.