By now, most fans of #MACtion are familiar with the story. The undervalued high school recruit heads to the G5 college. Maybe there is a trip to a community college along the way. His passion overrides preconceived ideas about his talent, and he is given a shot at the big time. He succeeds, and everyone cries and hugs and we wait for the next underdog story.
Underdog finally makes it! As sports fans, it’s one of the main stories we look for, along with redemption stories and flat out dominance. Other than our own favorite team winning, of course.
The thing is, while many have gone down this path, it’s worth noting every single time. Even though it’s semi-cliche’, statistically it still doesn’t happen all that often. For every Julian Edelman, there are literally thousands of participants in the MAC that, at least light weight, have the same dream.
Certainly there will be haters from the other 11 programs that aren’t named Kent State. They’ll point out that their version Edelman’s story is better, and that’s the wrong way to look at it. I know Roethlisberger didn’t start at QB until his senior year in high school, because the coaches son was the starter. I know Antonio Gates didn’t play football in college. They are all great stories, and as we get more cynical with age, we start to down play others’ achievements.
Edelman deserves our praise, as does Kent State for finding him and helping him on his journey.
I’ll be honest, what brought me to this story was seeing Edelman as the top trend on my Yahoo. I fully accept responsibility for being ridiculed for still using Yahoo, and it’s fully deserved. However, where I accept even more responsibility is seeing it and thinking, “who cares, he isn’t even the best player out of the MAC”. While that is factually debated, that’s a terrible way to look at it.
After further reflection, I was like, “OMG, the MAC is trending!” I clicked on the news stories associated with his name, and felt a tinge of pride. As MAC lovers, we love the underdog. We are loyal to our brand, and when they succeed, no matter how rare, it’s special. It’s not weird or even hypocritical to spread that love to the entire league. So go ahead, and enjoy the success of Edelman, and every other MAC athlete that makes it on the national stage. I’ll only judge if you don’t.