Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Rooting for the favorites

As wonderful as it is to see underdogs play above their heads and challenge favorites (see Algeria-Germany, Switzerland-Argentina etc), if I don't have a bias I am often rooting for the favorite, in my heart of hearts.  Why is this, I wonder?

At first glance you could say that it's a conservative impulse, that I want the established order to triumph, because it provides certainty in an uncertain world.  And maybe there's some of that.

But what I really think/feel is this.  If I like the player, and, for example, in the absence of a lot of negative stories I find it hard not to like Lionel Messi (he's cute, he celebrates goals and victories in a seemingly genuine way), then I want them to succeed.  Or, rather, I want them not to fail, because I identify with them and the burden of expectations that they carry.  I feel bad for them when they fail.

For sure, when someone is eliminated from a major tournament, be it March Madness, Champions League or the World Cup (and those are the only ones I really think of as major), there is a finality to a loss that makes it poignant to watch anyone once they have been eliminated -- excepting those teams and players one can genuinely dislike (Duke, Louisville, Italy, or the Dutch playing the way they played against Spain in 2010).  When you watch a UAB or a or an Algeria or a Ghana get knocked out, it's sad, but you know they played hard and it's a genuine achievement to have been there.

But at the end of the day, I have a mild bias towards the favorite, because I hate to see people fail, because I identify with them too strongly.

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