Like the rest of the world, I watched Tiger Woods win the Masters over the weekend, marking a long comeback that most people didn’t think would happen. I thought it was possible but really didn’t think too much about it either way. This morning I was reading an article about the similarity between Tiger and Michael Phelps and I started thinking about underdogs and favorites and which one I rooted for. I came up with both.
Everyone likes the idea of the underdog but I’d argue we never latch onto them. I think this is because their ascent can be flukey. Take Buster Douglas who unbelievably knocked out Mike Tyson in 1990. Can you tell me how his career played out after? Me neither. So I looked. He fought Evander Holyfield who knocked him out in the 3rd round. He retired after the fight.
I think I like the idea of the favorite more because being the best is hard. Everyone gives you their best effort in every occasion. Everyone wants to topple you. That’s why staying there is so hard. Couple that with the fact that you’re basically hated by everyone but your fans and the cliche of it “being lonely at the top” rings true.
For me though, I love excellence across party lines. I went to LSU and always want them to beat Alabama. At the same time, if you can’t appreciate the program and level of coaching performance Nick Saban has created, you’re never going to have a chance to beat them. It’s called respecting greatness. The same applies for Golden State and the New England Patriots. Not popular opinions, but if you are objective. They are correct.
My opinion lives outside of fandom because I don’t really watch much sports. In fact I don’t think I watched one NBA game in like 11 years. Doesn’t mean I don’t want the Warriors to win. I like that they changed the conversation about how to win in the NBA and teams are scrambling to catch up. That’s innovation and I love it. Plus how can you not like a 6 ft talk guy winning against guys 8 in taller?
Finally, I like the favorite because I love seeing a great streak. Winning one championship of any kind is hard. Winning 2 is even harder. Winning multiples, that’s the legend stuff and speaks to a level of consistency we should all strive for.
Consistency is hard because it means no days off. It means doing it right more times than not. It means mental and physical preparation beyond what others are doing. And it means sacrifice.
It means sacrifice. Anything worth doing well means a lot of sacrifice.
It’s Tuesday. Go get you some excellence.