Underdog stories keep the sports fan on fire

2014-09-12 00:00

NEWSPAPERS, television, streaming, Twitter, bars, restaurants — even walking past appliance outlets — are all sources for the sports enthusiast to stay on top of the game.

Somewhere in the back of the human mind is a wire that’s plugged into the sport box and with so much going on around the world, the connection is always red hot and active.

For most of us, we just have to know what’s going on, who is winning, what the score is. Taping a live match is like a short circuit — it just messes things up — and nullifies the challenge of finding a way to keep up to date with the action.

One of the driving forces that keeps the sport connection alive and kicking is the possibility of the unexpected happening. There is always that possibility. Every sporting contest has that cloud of uncertainty hanging over it and a great upset ignites the fire of passion, support and interest.

Sure, there are times when the so-called underdog has no chance, the odds too great, the opposition too polished, but lately, the stars that determine who will be the best in a specific contest seem to be in some disarray. Surprises there have been aplenty and wow, stirring conversation, prediction and loyalty to teams and individuals.

All of a sudden, Manchester United are struggling. They are just an ordinary team at the moment, opposing sides more confident of getting three points against them than they have been in years, decades.

The Sharks are struggling in the Currie Cup, beaten by the weaker Pumas and Griquas in recent weeks and the Springboks were upset by the Wallabies in a match that was controlled by the green jerseys until seconds from full time.

Tennis has been somersaulting with upset results. Stan Wawrinka won the Aussie Open in January and last week’s U.S. Open was like something from an alien movie, such were the results, especially on the men’s side.

For the first time since 2005, neither one of Murray, Djokovic or Federer reached a Grand Slam final and in years to come, the ultimate sports question will be who were the men’s 2014 U.S. Open finalists.

Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori added a breath of fresh air to world tennis, sparking a new interest in the game, an anticipation of who the next generation of dominating players will be.

By doing the unexpected, they have kept tennis and world sport burning brightly.

Closer to home, the Dolphins are off to India on Sunday for the Champions League T20 and if ever the underdog tag could be pinned on a team, they are the leading contenders.

Qualifying for the tournament, winning the Ram Slam T20 last season, was a surprise from a young, determined outfit who, having realised they could win and be competitive, took the baton and won the race. This is a much tougher assignment for a side that, on paper, has no immediate name jumping out or a player big enough to strike fear into the opposition.

For many, its their first time on the subcontinent, more than a challenge in itself. Their only weapon is to “sneak under the radar” and, like a mosquito after blood, annoy the dickens out of whoever they play.

Again, the spice of sport delivers the possibility of an upset and already the juices are stirring in anticipation.

Yes, it’s worth following their fortunes as who knows what can and will happen.

QPR beating Man United this weekend? The Boks overwhelming the All Blacks? Sharks beating Cheetahs? That wire is burning more than hot right now.

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