Saturday, April 02, 2011

The American Myth: Three Cheers for the Underdog

On March 29, 2011, I was watching NCAA Elite Eight woman's basketball games, and found myself cheering, in the final game of the round, for Texas A&M against Baylor.  Both teams are currently in the Big 12, and rivals of my "home team" Texas Tech. The season this year saw Texas Tech lose twice to Texas A&M and surprisingly, only once to Baylor. Texas Tech had an 11 point upset win over Baylor in Lubbock.

Well, there is something to be said for the American Myth about cheering for the underdog. And I tend to do that sometimes. Often.  In the USA, we love "the Cinderella Story."

But for me, there was more that went into cheering for A&M than cheering for the underdog.  Some of it had to do with the BAD HISTORY between Texas Tech and Baylor.  Specifically, and most recently, the events of the the Texas Tech vs. Baylor game in Lubbock on March 3, 2010. Baylor "superstar" Brittany Griner punched Texas Tech player Jordan Barncastle and broke her nose.  From the Texas Tech perspective, Ms. Griner was given a very mild punishment: she issued a written apology, but she also was given a 2 game suspension.  A mere slap on the wrist.

But, even before that, there was the Kim Mulkey presence.  Her style, her dress, her behavior.  Her style is rough. Her dress is flamboyant, advertising all she has to offer as a coach. Her behavior reflects her style and dress: angry, aggressive, adversarial to the MAX.

On the other hand, Gary Blair, coach of the A&M team has a more collegial, generous style. Less aggressive. More complimentary of the opposition. He even approached Tech player, Kierra Mallard, after one of the Tech vs. A&M games and encouraged her to step up to the leadership role she really should be demonstrating as a junior player. How much more generous and gracious as a coach can you get.

So, when I am deciding on a team to cheer for, there are factors other than being the underdog, that influence my decision.

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