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On the Winning Side

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Fans watching soccer Fans watching soccer (Ali Brohi/flickr)

In movies and daydreams, winning changes everything. But in real life, it's not always so easy to pin down which ending is the happiest, or who deserves the glory. Dan Engber, senior editor for Slate Magazine, tells Producer Soren Wheeler about his self-defeating habit of always rooting for the underdog. Scott Allison and Nadav Goldschmied, who study this very propensity, say that there's such a deeply ingrained, strong bias for the underdog...that only 1 in 5 people admit to pulling for the top dog. Malcolm Gladwell, one of the rare top-doggers, stands behind siding with the favorites.

Then, Producer Pat Walters ends the show with the ultimate sports story--an against-all-odds tale set in a small town in Alabama...where a team of underdogs turned a high school basketball game into a victory that seemed to defy reality. David Smith, who watched the game from the bleachers as a teacher, sets the scene, while head coach Jay Sanders and assistant coach Vic Griggs help fill in the details. And Thomas Lake, who reported the story for Sports Illustrated, introduces us to the two players, Chad Cobb and Robert Collier, who made history. After the rest of their team fouled out, Chad and Robert pulled off an unbelievable win...by finding a way for just two players to beat five rivals. 

The North Jackson Chiefs

Further reading:

Malcolm Gladwell: Outliers: The Story of Success

Comments [9]

Tim Booth from Los Angeles

Made me cry, twice .

Oct. 13 2013 08:22 PM

I need to add another comment... the last story about the high school game that was 2 on 5 was incredible. Thanks and Keep up the terrific work!! :-)

Nov. 07 2011 08:12 PM

I can only agree with Jay (and even Dave from UM)... I'm listening to this old podcast and I heard exactly what they heard. Like Jay, I'm also a very proud MSU grad and it's kind of bothersome that someone didn't do their homework for this story and get the schools straight. Michigan State and University of Michigan ARE NOT THE SAME SCHOOL!!! Other than that, you have a great show! Go Green!

Nov. 07 2011 07:45 PM
Cristobal from Central Florida

I am also an infracaninophile! What a great story!

Sep. 26 2011 11:31 PM
sam

is there any video of the "2 on 5" game out there? i would love to see it for myself.

Sep. 07 2011 05:44 PM
Paul from West Hartford, CT

I shazam'ed the music at the very end, and it came up as "The Silence" by Hammock

Sep. 05 2011 06:34 PM
Yoni Gordon

Does anyone know what music is being played over the very end of this story?

Aug. 30 2011 05:02 PM
Dave from NYC

Just finished listening to the whole Games podcast, and I really enjoyed it, one of the best. Just to chime in again, during the back & forth Michigan State/Butler montage, you referred to MSU as "Michigan" and played the University of Michigan fight song. As a UM grad, I do not mind, but I'm sure the grief from MSU wasn't so kind (See Jordon's comment on the main Games Podcast page - http://www.radiolab.org/2011/aug/23/ ).

Aug. 26 2011 08:22 AM
Jay from East Lansing, MI

Enjoying the podcast, however the anecdote about the NCAA tournament game between MSU and Butler, had the University of Michigan fight song in the background. As a proud graduate of Michigan State University, this is particularly painful. I won't stop listening to the podcast, but I'll be paying attention to the background music for the MSU fight song in a future podcast. :)
Go Green! Go White!

Aug. 24 2011 01:50 PM

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