There is absolutely nothing sweeter in life, than being an underdog in almost anything, whether it is professional sports, or something relevant to one’s own personal life, and then showing all the doubters and prognosticators, how useless and obsolete their predictions and evaluations were.
I have been through this in my career recently, and I can tell you that overcoming the odds when they are stacked against you, in any scenario, is one of the most rewarding life experiences one can have. It is a feeling that you can’t buy, and can only be realized through first hand experience.
I suppose that special endeavors, like climbing a mountain, or achieving supremacy in sports or any profession, would also generate this kind of satisfaction, for those who have lived the reality of being an underdog for whatever reason.
Even before I started my career, I had to beat the underdog tag. The first time I applied to Syracuse University, I was declined, because the scores on my Graduate Record Exam ( know as the G.R.E. ) were well below what the school and most other universities would accept. As opposed to rolling over and giving up on my goals, I applied and was accepted into the University Of Windsor, in graduate communications. After scoring a high “B” average that year, I re-applied to Syracuse, and the Dean of the program I was applying to, Dave Berkman, decided that my grades and letters of recommendation from professors at Windsor, were sufficient to convince him that I could be successful at S.U. He was right in his assessment, as things turned out. I graduated from the S.I. Newhouse School Of Public Communications, at Syracuse University, with a 3.25 grade point average,( scored out of 4 ), which would translate into a high “B” average. That’s not too bad of a score for a one time reject.
I was determined, blessed, and most fortunate to get on the air in Toronto, the 4th largest media market in North America, in 1992. At that time, I was already 37 years of age, and had almost no on-air experience, with a background as a producer. However, I was determined not to take no for an answer, and I didn’t. I applied to the program director, at the soon to be launched, Fan 590. At the time, it was Alan Davis, and for some reason, he liked the way I presented myself, and the way I sounded on a demo reel. With hardly any experience on the air, I had become a sports radio talk show host, and a significant part of the footprint of The Fan 590, in the southern Ontario and Toronto radio landscape, creating strong name recognition for both The Fan 590, and myself, as “Stormin” Norman Rumack, “The Late Night Vampire”, the additional title that I created for myself. I didn’t quit before that opportunity arose, and I haven’t given up on myself in the face of any adversity since then, no matter what the circumstances.
Similarly, I enjoy supporting sports teams that are not the favorites of most fans, and my media colleagues. The clubs I follow and support, are the EPL’s Chelsea Blues, the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays, and of course my alma mater, Syracuse University, with the football and basketball Orange teams.
The vast majority of soccer fans in Canada, support Manchester United, Arsenal , or Liverpool, along with others who like some of the Spanish or Italian club teams.
The Chelsea Blues had a strong start to their 2010-2011 season, went through an awful slump along with injury problems in the fall, and slowly turned themselves around after the new year. They were mostly written off, as having any chance to maintain their Premiership title from last season. Through determined efforts, and refusing to listen to the deafening doubters, the Blues still have a remote chance to maintain their title, if they can somehow get a tough road win against their very skilled opponents from Manchester United, at Old Trafford next weekend. Blues captain John Terry, in a recent interview with espnsoccernet.com, spoke of the same spirit in professional sports, which I identify with in all aspects of life. “ There have been times when they (Manchester United) were running away with it. United were 15 points clear ( as of March 1) at one point which I thought made them out of sight, so to get it down to three points shows what we’ve done. We certainly never give up and this is the ideal situation for us……If we go there and lose , then fair play to them, but they know we’re certainly capable of going there and getting a result. The manager’s done the right job, kept the players hungry, and all the supporters have been like that as well – they’ve never let us give up and think it was over.” Chelsea have won eight of their last nine games, although they lost two games to Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, in Champions League quarter final play in the past two months.
The Blues may come up short in their quest, however, just the fact that they were able to climb back into the race and have this opportunity, is in itself a testimony to never quitting, as spoken by the reinstated captain of England’s national team, when most others dismissed this possibility as nothing more than a hallucination
When the Syracuse Orange won the NCAA men’s basketball championship at the 2003 Final Four in New Orleans, they overcame the label of chokers, as did the Indianapolis Colts, in winning the 2006 Super Bowl, which took place in February of 2007. The Tampa Bay Rays made it to the World Series in 2008, before losing to the eventual champions, the Philadelphia Phillies. Considering they were a last place team for more than a decade, it was a monumental achievement for manager Joe Maddon and his high character, very athletic squad, which he took over in 2006, when they were still at the bottom of the baseball standings.
Labeling people, or groups of individuals, is often easy for others. It can simplify life for those who want everything they see and observe, to be categorized instantly. This enables them to feel smart, because they think that they have an answer for everything and anything.
What those applying the labels often overlook, is that these adjectives, are only words that with few exceptions, as in psychological or psychiatric analysis, are as temporary and relevant as yesterdays newspapers. Much like the ones on food items, labels placed on individuals also expire,quite often through the determination of those who are on the receiving end of the convenient titles, applied by those in desperate need of instant and often inaccurate identification.
I’ve been on the receiving end of some of those labels. I know exactly how inaccurate and useless they are, and how much fun it is, to make those applying them, seem as ignorant as they usually are.