a his & hers weblog of worlds apart
Why cheering for the underdog is inhumane.
I was catching up on some podcasts recently and really enjoyed this little quip from RadioLab’s episode on Games in which Malcolm Gladwell pops in to explain why he believes it’s cruel to cheer for the underdog. It’s quintessential Gladwell. He offers uncommon perspective that forces us to rethink cultural convention.
“I never ever cheer for the underdog. I’m distressed by the injustice of the person who should win, not winning. Losing, for the favorite, is the most exquisitely painful situation to be in. It’s too painful when they lose.
There is no way you cannot cheer for the overdog, because they will suffer. It’s the only humane position.
You know what the other thing is… I have a deep distrust and unhappiness with luck. So I do not like it when an outcome turns on an unrepeatable sequence.
Game is not a story. To me, game is a contest between two parties, according to certain rules. And when the expectations and rules are violated, some part of me takes offence.” (full fascinating listen here at 53:35)
It’s not the first time Gladwell has shared thinking on underdogs. He caused quite a stir with this 2009 New Yorker article that celebrated the full court press.