Rooting For The Underdog

Tonight, the 2009 NFL season officially starts. It got me to thinking about what is really cool about sports, to me. As I write this on Thursday morning, every team’s record is the same. 0-0.

Almost one year ago to the day, on September 6, 2008, I wrote a post here called Created Equal, Not Equally. A great example of that is the beginning of any sports season at any level. From this week forward, there will be teams who move forward, and some who lose ground. The haves, and the have-nots.

When I watch a game where I have no real rooting interest for either team, I typically find myself rooting for the underdog. This is the team against whom the odds are stacked. I think it’s inspiring to see someone overcome the odds to end up victorious. In some cases, maybe they still lose the game, but were competitive beyond everyone’s expectations.

I have found that I’ve often gravitated to the same type of people in life. There are many gifted and fortunate people who have so many things bestowed upon them by simply being born into the right family. The Kennedys, the Hiltons, the Trumps. But there are many, many more who are born into difficult situations. Maybe they’re born into a rough family, a rough neighborhood, or with some sort of disabilities.

One thing I truly miss…and it just may be one of only a couple things I miss from directing a youth basketball program was watching those kids who didn’t have a speck of athletic ability. These kids often had velcro straps on their shoes because they didn’t even know how to tie them yet. And those shoes often had little lights in the soles that lit up as they ran around. I just love those kids.

Now don’t get me wrong. I loved the gifted and talented ones, too. But there just is something that augers straight into my heart with the kids who have to work twice as hard to be half as good. I learned that each one of us has a certain measure of ability, as well as our own measures of success. In these so-called underdogs, I found they had giftings that the others couldn’t even come close to. Even the adults! For some, it was an amazing intellect. For others, amazing musical talents. And still others, sensitive hearts for others. I found myself admiring these kids for their giftings which surpassed my own.

Everyone has redeeming, and even spectacular qualities. For some, it’s obvious to see. For most, you have to get to know the person and pay attention. It’s easy to celebrate the ones with the obvious qualities, while the ones who take some investment of our time often go unnoticed and unappreciated.

So I would like to issue you, as well as myself, a simple challenge. Take time over the next week or so to find someone you don’t know very well, and look for that hidden quality that makes them amazing. Maybe it’s a co-worker or a neighbor. Maybe they’ve already popped up in your head as you read this.

If you would, I’d love to hear your feedback on this little challenge. Come back and post a comment and share your experience. I find this kind of thing energizing, and I think your experience will bless me, as well as others.

Go out today and be inspired, and be inspirational!

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