Iceland, the world’s newest underdog story

The world loves an underdog story. And it’s easy to understand why. It reinforces our belief that the impossible can happen.

That we can dream big.

There’s a reason why no one has ever had a single bad thing to say about the 1993 film “Rudy,” where an undersized, athletically challenged undergrad shows indomitable spirit in accomplishing his dream to play for the Notre Dame football team.

We seek underdog stories. We want to root for someone who defies expectations.

And now, the latest team to fulfill this insatiable desire of ours is … Iceland?!

Iceland soccer

When most people think of Iceland athletics, their mind might immediately jump to “D2: The Mighty Ducks,” when Iceland was the team to beat and primary obstacle for the Ducks during an amateur international hockey tournament.

Of course, that probably had nothing to do with the country’s history in ice hockey — in fact, they’ve never been ranked higher than 33rd in the world — but rather because their country name simply has the word “ice” in it.

But anyway, the Iceland youth national team lost that epic battle to Emelio Estevez, Pacey from Dawson’s Creek and Kenan from SNL in the movie’s final showdown, and since then, no one’s really thought about the country except for when they listen to the band Of Monsters and Men.

Oh, did you just learn right now that band is from Iceland? You’re welcome.

So let’s just say that Iceland athletics was overdue. And this past week, they shocked the world.

Until this year, Iceland had never competed in a major soccer tournament. And that’s Rudy2understandable, considering their country only has about 300,000 people in it. By contrast, the state of Wyoming has nearly double that.

That being said, it was quite a miraculous accomplishment that Iceland even qualified for this year’s 2016 UEFA European Championship, which is currently happening in France.

It was even more astounding when Iceland then went on to advance past their group, which they did by defeating Austria on a dramatic, last-second goal.

It was a goal that brought their home announcer to a level of joy never before witnessed in the history of the universe. That alone brought Iceland to noteworthy status.

But like all underdog stories, the magic continued. Unbelievably, Iceland is still in this tournament after they defeated England on Monday night, 2-1. Some are calling it the biggest upset in soccer history.

And as you all know, England isn’t exactly having the best time right now.

Although, Iceland, too, has been facing its own troubles since the release of the Panama Papers, which implicated many of its government’s senior officials in sketchy tax evasion schemes. So they needed their own distraction.

Next up, Iceland will play France on July 3 — as in, the country that’s hosting the tournament. It can’t possibly continue, right? Right?

I guess it’s been too long since I’ve seen Rudy.

Viva la Iceland!

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