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The Myth of the Underdog

Jules Feiffer wrote that in the early days the fans of either Superman and Batman could be separated out in terms of how neurotic or secure they felt. If you felt downtrodden and insecure, you liked Superman, the realization of all your hopes and dreams.  If you were a little more sure of your place in the world, you'd root for Batman, who took his lumps but typically bounced back.

We've been mulling over the psychology of why we root for underdogs. Feiffer may have it right; the better you feel, the more you'll take a chance on an underdog. You'd think it might be the reverse - that underdogs would root for other underdogs - but what every underdog really wants is to be a former underdog.  


  • Mike Pesca - Host of Slate's daily podcast, The Gist, and weekly sports podcast, Hang Up and Listen
  • Reggie Hatchett - Coach, Weaver High School Basketball team
  • Lucy Ferriss? - Writer-in-Residence at Trinity College and author of many books, most recently, A Sister To Honor
  • August Wolf- Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate 

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Colin McEnroe, Betsy Kaplan, Chion Wolf, Jonathan McNicol and Greg Hill contributed to this show.

Colin McEnroe is a radio host, newspaper columnist, magazine writer, author, playwright, lecturer, moderator, college instructor and occasional singer. Colin can be reached at colin@ctpublic.org.

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