Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Favorites vs Underdogs

The 2008 Wimbledon final from a couple of days ago was epic. Perhaps the greatest tennis player ever against a potential future legend. Sport sites were all over the actual game coverage, but I was fascinated by the psychology of those audience watching the game.

As I watched the game with friends and family, I found myself to be the sole supporter of defending champ, RFed. Everyone else was rooting for Nadal.

This seems to be a theme with me - I was rooting for the Pats in Super Bowl XLII, for Tiger Woods at the US Open last month, for Australia in the 2007 Cricket World Cup, etc. I seem to want the favorites to triumph. Most friends of mine and most others out these seem to always favor underdogs.

I wonder what makes an individual go one way or the other when it comes to supporting the favorite vs supporting the underdog.

Leaving aside the betting aspects of it all, my naive guess is that who one supports has something to do with projecting one's own life experiences. If you've struggled and played the role of underdog more often than not, you empathize with another in the same situation. If you've been on the other side more often, where you've always needed to 'defend your turf' in some way, you probably ed up rooting for the champ.

Someone somewhere has probably written up a study that goes into the exact psychology of it all, but I stand by my extremely un-scientific claims above while I procrastinate trying to find said study.

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