The British love an underdog. Apparently. I’m not sure that the miscellaneous indigenous peoples who were wiped out to make space for the British Empire would have seen it that way, but hey ho, never mind.
I mention this because Wimbledon approaches, when all of a sudden people with no real interest in any other sport pop out of the woodwork to spend hours a day flipping between simultaneous tennis coverage on BBCs 1 and 2. In reality it’s not just that they don’t like sport, they don’t even like tennis (or they’d watch the French Open too). What they like is looking at nice green grass, and the Duchess of Kent’s hat. Ah! How relaxing.
For the most part, they support anyone other than the player who’s expected to win, unless it was Tim Henman, in which case they supported his opponent so that they could continue to make jokes about Tim being a loser.
I’ve never quite got this. It’s very egalitarian, I suppose, and I guess that by supporting the guy who’s probably going to lose you can feel that you’re doing your bit to prolong the match and increase the entertainment value. But it’s still a strange way to go about it.
I’m a fan of the best player winning. It’s the same in other sports – golf, for example. Or even, to the extent that I care, football. (Well, who I support in football is the result of a more complicated algorithm, mainly revolving around how much dodgy cash clubs have access to.) I like the players with the talent, and those who’ve put in the work, to win.
I know this means I have a dull, predictable outlook on life. Although it’s a view I share with the French – who supported Roger Federer at the French Open, even when he was against a French player. In France, this isn’t being dull and predictable; it’s being knowledgeable about the game, or respecting the best player. I think I like that way of doing it.