I grew up as a New England sports fan in the 70’s and 80’s so it’s no surprise that I’m a fan of the underdog.
With the exception of a nice run by the Celtics in the 80’s I can remember watching the Red Sox and Patriots battle for last place in their divisions while the Bruins just did battle. In the fluke seasons when the hometown teams made it to the playoffs no one expected them to win, and they never failed to live up to expectations. Even with the Patriots current string of success, it’s not behind a first round draft pick or a lifelong blue chip, it’s an underdog with a 199 chip in his shoulder. There is something special about watching the unlikely succeed.
Now that we are in the midst of another season of college football there are weekly chances to root for a new underdog. Like many people, I’ll watch unranked Iowa play #19 Wisconsin just to see if there’s going to be an upset. When my kids walk in on me checking scores or watching a game between two teams we have no ties to we have the same conversation.
Kids: “Who do you want to win?”
Me: “Doesn’t really matter.”
Kids: “Well then who are you cheering for?”
Me: “Whoever is not supposed to win.”
Me: “Because it’s fun to see the underdog win.”
This sentiment definitely surfaces in my stories. I like to write stories about people who survive or thrive based on hard work and a little bit of luck. A betting man would never pick my characters to be the last ones standing after the apocalypse but there they are; scared, confused, and plugging away. They may have survived by accident, but they carry on with intent and adapt to their new roles as heroes.
If you like this type of story, in addition to my own books you might enjoy The Complete Deadland Saga by Rachel Aukes. Cash is an officer worker with few survival skills. When the world ends on a Thursday she’s probably not the one you’d expect to make it until Friday or longer.
Who do you prefer, the perennial contender or the scrappy underdog?