Thanks to Netflix, I just watched “Eddie the Eagle,” the 2016 movie about Eddie Edwards, who competed for Great Britain in the Calgary Olympics in 1988. This may be one of the purest feel-good movies ever made.
From the time he was a young boy, Eddie dreamed of being an Olympic athlete. The problem was, he had no athletic ability. But Eddie was undeterred. When he was rejected for the British Downhill Team, Eddie spotted his chance. Great Britain had not sent a ski-jumper to the Olympics in over 50 years. Eddie realized that if he could learn the sport, and meet the minimum qualifications (which were low, since no sane person would risk their life on something so dangerous), the team would have to take him. Through sheer force of will, unbelievable courage, and the support of his parents (who spent all their savings so he could train), Eddie made the team.
He finished last out of 73 ski-jumpers at Calgary, but his improbable story inspired millions around the world.
One British writer said, “Not that everybody loved him. Many people at Calgary were critical of the way a loser was being lauded. What they didn’t appreciate was his sacrifice, his bravery, and his determination to improve. The manner, in short, in which he fulfilled the very ethical purpose of the Olympic Games. Edwards epitomized the moral value of trying even if success is impossible. He was, in fact, the last of the great amateurs; we will never see his like again.”
I think the reason we love stories about underdogs is that we were created by a God who chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. Jesus is the “stone the builders rejected.” It’s when we lift up the least that we may be most like the Savior.