A Tale of Two UnderDog(e)s

The tale of the underdog has always had a special place in sporting history. Regardless of where you are from, sports provide an equal platform where athletes are judged purely on their skills, physical prowess, and mental sharpness. This sets the stage for the beloved underdogs to capture our hearts by exceeding everyone’s expectations.

One of the most emblematic examples of the underdog story is that of the Jamaican Boblsed team, and their attempts to qualify for the Winter Olympics over the years.

Jamaica is definitely not known for producing athletes that compete in the winter Olympics. Having qualified for the 1988 Calgary Olympics, the Jamaican Bobsled team inspired and captured the hearts of fans from all around the world. Although they ended up crashing into a wall in one of their four runs, their dedication, professionalism and constant strive for improvements developed into one of the major stories of the 1988 games. Their story even inspired the major motion picture Cool Runnings.

Twenty-six years later, the two-man team composed of driver Winston Watts and brakeman Marvin Dixon managed to qualify for the Sochi Olympics but didn’t have the money to make it to Russia. To raise the $80,000 required, the team turned to a series of online crowdfunding campaigns. Spurred on by some 90’s nostalgia, and their enduring popularity, the team managed to raise more than $200,000 to send the athletes to Russia and continue Jamaican Bobsled’s bizarre relationship with the Winter Games.

This year, the team benefited from the support of another underdog. The internet meme inspired crypto-currency Dogecoin (pronounced Dough-g, like vogue or rogue) managed to raise and donate $30,000 to support the teams efforts.

Much like Bitcoin or other crypto-currencies, Dogecoin can best be described as digital money, and although they remain a relatively “niche” medium of financial exchange, they are making serious noise with some claiming that they could one day rival Visa, Mastercard, or paper money. In attempting to go up against the more traditional currencies, crypto-currencies have firmly placed themselves as the financial underdogs.

owever they have been able to garner more respect and legitimacy as the value of a single Bitcoin has risen (albeit in a very volatile manner) from $23 to about $700 in a year.

Dogecoin, whose current value sits around $0.0013 per DOGE, (or basically nothing) has from it’s inception been the comical cousin of Bitcoin, and could be considered the ultimate underdoge (pun intended). However that is not to say that they are financially insignificant. The Dogecoin market is currently worth $60 million, and while other currencies have been losing value, Dogecoin is up 446% over the past month. While you still may not be able to buy much with them, the fact that Dogecoin has helped send a national team (and fellow underdog) to the winter Olympics is proof enough that it has real value.

Which brings us back to the Jamaican bobsled team.

The efforts of the Jamaican athletes haven’t gone unnoticed by larger entities either. Reports have emerged in recent days that Samsung has decided to sponsor Jamaica’s trip to Sochi and equip them with numerous performance analysis devices. “As we embark on the final weeks leading up to the start of Sochi 2014, we are constantly reminded that some of the most inspirational stories are not about medals, but about how athletes must overcome incredible obstacles on their journey to the Olympic Games,” said Younghee Lee, executive vice president of global marketing, IT & mobile division at Samsung Electronics.

With all this success and recognition before even hitting the ice at sochi, we hope that the underdogs continue to garner attention and respect, and that the Jamaican media cover the exploits of the national Bobsleigh athletes in the same way it praises its sprinters in track and field.
In today’s world, where competition is fiercest and monetary winnings are huge, it’s heart-warming to see a meme inspired currency fund a story as bizarrely inspiring as the Jamaican bobsled team. Together, they are reminding us that sport is about so much more than who wins or loses.

Jad Antoun & Kieran Mak

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