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You ain’t nothing but an underdog

After Leicester City Football Club won the Premier League, beating impossible odds, Helena Hanson discusses why we always root for the underdog.

By Helena Hanson

Leicester City Football Club have won the Premier League. It is a phenomenon that has seldom been seen. Not since Jesus walked on water has the world seen such a marvel that defies so many laws of normativity. The odds of Leicester winning the league at the start of the season were five thousand to one. I am not a betting woman, but I understand those odds. I understand that means that it is pretty fucking unlikely. In fact, when 2013 saw the likelihood of Bono becoming the new Pope at only one thousand to one, Leicester winning the league was not far from pretty outrageously impossible.

The most popular tweet following the win that circulated the internet was the comparison made between Leicester’s win and the London marathon. In an attempt to explain to ‘girls’ (who evidently can’t comprehend the significance by themselves) the magnitude of the result, it was described as the equivalent to “Gemma Collins winning the London Marathon”. Cruel, but effective.

This is a big deal. Manchester United did not win. Chelsea did not win. It is the year of the underdog and the world is rejoicing. With Jamie Vardy achieving Jesus-like status, with his rise from Stocksbridge Parks Steels F.C. to the Premier League being a Bible-worthy story alone, the miracles just keep on coming. Eighteen months ago Leicester were bumping around in the digestive biscuit realm of exciting-ness- not completely shit, but not particularly rousing either. It was initially dismissed as a fluke. A blip that just kept on blipping. Until they just…won.

We always root for the underdog. It is intuitive human nature. We root for him despite knowing he is destined to lose, his dreams will almost certainly be crushed, alongside ours. It just means more. It feels so gratifying. We feel like they will appreciate it more. Like they deserve it more because they weren’t born at the top. It’s a break from the daily grind, the indubitable facts we accept and regurgitate.

Our generation will never pay off our student loans, we’ll never own a house, politicians will continue to fuck us over, our brains will frazzle and die from excessive mobile phone usage and we’ll never truly reap the rewards of spending twelve months earning the Duke of Edinburgh award. But then, every once in a while, perhaps only four or five times in a lifetime, something like this will happen. Something that pisses all over the status quo. Something that reminds us that there is always a tiny, teeny little blip that can fuck up the whole system. It happened in 2007 when Paul Potts defied the norms of the television and music industry by winning Britain’s Got Talent despite being overweight and not blonde or beautiful. It happened in 2006 when a student basketball player and a science-nerd both realised their love for performance musicals and taught a whole high school how to be themselves and reject the status quo, and it happened last week, when Leicester City football club showed the whole world that football doesn’t have to be about size or money or power.

It’s been beautiful and it’s been brilliant and it’s been a brave reminder of what ballsy football can do. And it’s being celebrated everywhere, in fact I heard Jamie Vardy is having a party, and we’re all fucking invited.

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