Tags: March Madness | NCAA | NCAA Tournament | Olympics | World Cup

America Is the Underdog on World Stage

Friday, 27 March 2015 12:29 PM Current | Bio | Archive

March Madness. The best sporting event on the planet. Sure, the Olympics stoke nationalistic fervor, but America is never the underdog, because we almost always lead the world in medal count.

And no, the World Cup absolutely cannot compare. First, soccer isn’t a sport; it’s a recreational activity. Second, enough with players writhing on the turf because they injured a nail. Third, what’s up with that running clock and the fact that we really don’t know when the game will end?

And the offsides rule kills the .001 percent excitement level in professional soccer by stifling aggressiveness and encouraging pansy play. A rule, by the way, that virtually no American understands.

And can we just admit that the "cards" which come in more colors than the Homeland Security threat-level chart are really dumb? Referees don’t warn basketball players after a foul. They actually call the foul. A simple concept, yet one lost on the soccer fanatics.

But the NCAA Tournament is different. And when it comes our way, miraculous things occur throughout America. March Madness teaches us that anything can happen, and that miracles do occur. Its lesson that sportsmanship, confidence, and work ethic can achieve the impossible are timeless.

On game days, little work gets done. And that’s okay, even with most bosses, because Americans work harder than anyone else.

Hell, we’re still being productive while the Europeans are taking a siesta from their earlier siesta. If there was ever something to which we can legitimately feel entitled, it’s taking a little time to watch the Tournament together.

For a few short weeks, Americans become blind to their prejudices. Political partisanship and the management-labor caste go out the window. The only colors we care about are worn by our favorite teams.

No longer do we see ourselves, and each other, as black and white, liberal and conservative. Instead, we become friends, neighbors, and countrymen, all side-by-side, cheering in unity.

In lunchrooms, bars, and cubicles, even crowded around cellphones, we huddle. Screaming. Smiling. And sometimes even crying.

Together, we root for teams, some of whom we’ve never heard of, hailing from places we don’t know, watching breathlessly as a Number 14 seed comes agonizingly close to slaying a giant.

We experience the unbelievable moments as seniors, some destined for the NBA, but most for an ordinary life, play their hearts out, knowing that one misstep will end their collegiate career. And just as often, we see 18-year old freshmen step to the foul line with the game literally in their hands, as an entire nation, including the President of the United States, watches.

Most Americans pull for the underdogs, the teams the experts don’t give a snowball’s chance to win. Yet every year, many find a way to knock out Goliath. We find this endearing not just because it’s fun, but because it personifies who we are as Americans.

From our very beginnings, the odds have always been stacked against us:
  • Defeat the British, the most powerful nation the world had even known? But we did, making the dream of liberty and freedom a reality for hundreds of millions.
  • Win the Civil War? Forget it. Even if Lincoln’s army prevailed, the South’s resentment would never subside, and its people would never assimilate into a northern-dominated America. If Vegas had odds, it would have been a sure bet that the tattered Union would not prevail. But it did.
  • Save the world from the tyranny of the Axis Powers? With an under-equipped army and industrial base not suited for defense production? Not for decades could victory be expected. And to engineer a weapon so awesome that it could end the war after just one or two uses? No way. And yet, the Greatest Generation not only accomplished those things, but provided the blueprint for America’s postwar mega-boom.
  • Put a man on the moon? Save the Apollo 13 astronauts? Beat the Soviet Union? End segregation? Elect a black man to the presidency? The list goes on.

Yet despite America’s track record, the naysayers are out in force, predicting doom. Maybe they’re right this time. Maybe America really is in its twilight, as the country’s seemingly insurmountable problems, and the politicians’ inability to solve them in a civil manner, attests. Maybe.

But no matter how many times America has fallen, and how often its back has been to the wall, it has always, always, prevailed. My money’s on the world’s biggest underdog coming through in the clutch once again, turning it on when it has to, and finishing the game stronger than anyone else. It’s what we’ve always done, and it’s what we must do now. Why? Because that’s what a true champion does.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.


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My money’s on the world’s biggest underdog coming through in the clutch once again, turning it on when it has to, and finishing the game stronger than anyone else. It’s what we’ve always done, and it’s what we must do now.
March Madness, NCAA, NCAA Tournament, Olympics, World Cup
Friday, 27 March 2015 12:29 PM
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