When love for underdogs beats patriotism

Most Americans want to see the United States do well in the Olympics.

Now, I have no survey to support this theory. But, based on a misspent life traveling hither and yon watching sports, including a number of Olympics, I believe I am correct in my general appraisal.

I'm one of them. But watching Lithuania play the US in men's basketball here yesterday, a strange feeling came over me. It was unbidden.

I wanted Lithuania to win.

Why would this be?

First, there is something that burns deep within a lot of us that loves to see underdogs triumph. We identify because most of us are underdogs. We work and we try but, way too often, we fail. We want to win, but we can't; we don't. When we do win, it's an upset.

Second, anything that flies in the face of conventional wisdom gets my motor running.

So it was with Lithuania. There is no way - none, zero, zippo - that Lithuania, for Pete's sake, should beat the best players on the planet in a game invented in the US. Can you name one thing Lithuania has going for it in hoops against the red, white, and terrific? I couldn't. Yet as it came down to the end, I found myself cringing when things went against Lithuania. I moaned when things went well for the US.

In the end, the US won, 85-76. That's as it should be, of course. The US is a far better team. But Seattle Supersonics guard Gary Payton admitted the obvious: "We have to come out here a little bit more serious."

I expect to find myself back on the American hoops bandwagon.

Probably.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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