Who Do You Root For?

Genie B.

We are all human and when watching a sporting event will usually find a player or team to root for.  But why do we make the choices that we do?

Hometown Underdogs

For me, when watching a sporting event on TV that I have no real vested interest in, I will usually cheer for the team that is the home team (back in the “good old days” when there were thousands of fans cheering in the stands) and/or the underdog – to upset the favorite.  If it is the underdog playing at home, that is a double positive.

How About Watching Tennis?

When watching a tennis match that doesn’t include one of my regular favorites (Nadal, Federer, etc.), I was thinking what makes me pull for one player over the other; and I think there are several factors…

  • Personality – The character of the player is probably critical … are they whiners?  Racquet smashers? Or are they fair with fans, opponents, and themselves?

  • Nationality – I confess to being pro-American and will USUALLY cheer for a country man/woman over anyone else.  What prompted me to think about this is when I was pulling for Nadal over young American Sebastian Korda at the French Open.  But I will also pull for a Taiwanese over a Chinese … an Englishman over a Russian … etc.

  • Young vs. Old – Here I flip-flop … sometimes I pull for the youngster for an upset; and other times I will want the “senior” player to have one more moment of glory.

  • Attractive People – When all else fails, we can always default to liking “pretty people”!

How about YOU… who do you root for?

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13 thoughts on “Who Do You Root For?

  1. George…for a moment there I thought I was viewing the Sports Illustrated swimsuit competition! I’m an underdog rooter most of the time. I like to see a battle and the drama when the underdog prevails!

    Jim, that is where her photo came from! george

  2. When I don’t have a dog in the fight, I generally agree with you, George. One other criteria is that I also root for Buffalo, Detroit and Cleveland. Why? Because, come on, does San Francisco really need a Super Bowl champion too? Let the cities that have suffered so much, or like Green Bay, have little else beside the Packers, win the Big One. I extend that internationally to countries like Ukraine, or Italy last spring. Who did not root successfully for New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina?

    Rick, i never thought about rooting for “underdog cities”… interesting. thanks, george

  3. Tennis “rooting”: style of play – a work ethic grinder like Schwartzman more attractive to me than a one trick pony big server. Inconsistency makes it hard to sustain support – Kyrgios and Sock break your heart with unforced errors.
    Behavior is important factor but, for me, perceived work ethic and respect for the game is number 1 attribute. Perhaps that is why Serena not my favorite where a lesser talent, overachiever like Simona Halep is easy to support.
    Jim Courier’s work ethic (try repeated 440 sprints like he trained with) demanded respect. Not known by many is that Andy Murray trained with similar intensity during his rise in the rankings. I can root for Andy despite some of his attitude, behavior undesirables because he really earned his success.

    Winder, i agree that “effort” is a contributing factor to being a fan favorite (and lack of, the reverse). thanks, george

  4. George, your post reminds me of when we were young, playing pick-up basketball and would play shirts and skins. In the case of your photo in the post, I would definitely root for the skins!

    Dave, and pass her the ball so she can shoot! george

  5. Interesting question. For tennis, I’m attracted to variety in style or gamer attitude. I was a big fan of Justine Henin because of her all-round game and beautiful one-handed backhand, These days, I find Ons Jabeur and Iga Swiatek interesting to watch (and root for). I tend to root for Bouchard not so much for her looks as for her gritty comeback story. On the men’s side, the big 3 are always good to watch simply for their virtuosity. Other than that I admit to pulling for an underdog or someone on the comeback trail (Murray). Looks or nationality don’t play much of a role except for the Olympics and Davis and Billie Jean King Cups.

    Doug, and that is a good variety of rooting priorities! thanks, george

  6. A fascinating subject George! For me it’s the players personality and demeanor as the primary factors. The influences are so varied and probably reflect personality traits of the viewer as well.

    Robert, you mean “you are what you root for”? thanks, george

  7. More and more I find myself cheering for a player, man or women that still plays with shot making variety. Since the game has become mostly a power baseline slugfest I gravitate toward any one that serves and volleys, hits with touch, uses a slice, can use multiple serving options, e.g. slice, power, kicker, angle out wide, etc. Unfortunately, the racquet/string technology has changed the style of game I grew up with and played – so it’s difficult to find anyone of the younger generation incorporating these shots consistently. This is a larger issue than your question, but I personally feel the game has gotten a bit boring despite the great athletes playing. So, anytime I see someone playing with shot-making variety I become a fan!

    Dan, I agree… two years ago, a few of us went to the Miami Open and watched 10 minutes of Opelka vs another big server and said, “we saw all that we were going to see” and went to another venue. thanks, george

  8. Hey George I am sitting here with my broken left wrist (from tennis of course) rooting for the lovely lady in the picture for ANYTHING she does. How brave of you to put that up there. I can watch lots of sports here now. In football I always pick teams who were terrible and slowly rebuild and become sometimes great like the old Tampa Bay team from years back. I rooted for them when they were the worst until they won the Superbowl. In tennis singles I root for the ones with the “all around game” who frequently come to the net with mastery like Federer of course. I loved watching recently the big baseliner Zherev come to the net with tough precision volleys. That is fun tennis to watch!

    Dave, i hope your wrist heals soon and well; so you can get back out on your hard/fast Philipine courts. george

  9. Not rooting for anyone or any team bringing political statements to the court or field . Consequently , I am not watching much this year , not even my beloved Green Bay Packers . Hope we can get back to just sports soon !

    Steve, i am with you! That is literally a real tune out for me too. thanks, george

  10. Growing up in Ct. of course I had to become a Patriots fan but also a fan of the Goat.
    So now its N.E. and Tampa. With no dog in the fight I definitely root for the underdog.
    When you live in different parts of the country you end up adopting new teams.
    Braves, Indians, and must I say Buckeyes. Now I even route for T.B and Miami.
    Tennis: Federer maybe the best ever now getting old but always shows the best
    sportsmanship of any athlete ever. Attitude is very important on individual
    sports.

    Phil, as a fellow New Englander, i am right there… was the Pats and TB; but now that the Pats seem to be out of the NFC, i can root for Tua and the Fish. thanks, george

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