Wednesday, February 17, 2010
M is for "Miracle"
(By the way, I am writing today about American Sports. I’m pretty sure Russia wouldn’t agree with this post in the least. Actually, while we’re here, I’m pretty sure Russia hates my blog. Canada too.)
The Vancouver Winter Olympics are here. I love the Olympics for many reasons. The biggest reason I love them is for the incredible moments they provide. I wish I could tell you I didn’t cry when Keri Strug stuck the landing in ’96, but I’m pretty sure I did. I'm also pretty sure I have cried enough during the Olympics for an entire funeral. Sad, but true. There's just something about the combination of sports, country, and festivity that turns me into a fanatical weirdo during the Olympics (but in a good way).
Sports works in superlatives. Every game, tournament, or season is the worst or best of something. There is no normalcy in sports because that doesn’t make for a very good headline (“Game Goes as Expected” isn’t exactly a great hook). And the Olympics exemplify this. So, when I hear somebody refer to something as the greatest moment in sports, it doesn’t really mean that much to me. However, when I hear of the same moment being called the greatest moment in sports over and over again? Now that’s a miracle.
You probably know where I am going with this. 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. USA Men’s Hockey defeats the goliath Russian squad to pull off the greatest upset in hockey (and debatably sports) history, all at the peak of the Cold War. Herb Brooks. Mike Eruzione. Al Michael’s call of “Do you believe in miracles?!” You know the story, and you’ve likely seen the movie.
This year is the 30th Anniversary of those games. Herb Brooks has since passed, the Cold War has ended, hockey’s popularity has waned, and yet it is still generally acknowledged as the greatest sports moment in history. Why? Because it deserves to be.
In an industry chalk-full of superlatives, the “miracle” of the 1980 Winter Olympics provided a backdrop that would have made sports writers of today’s heads blow up. USA versus Russia, young college kids versus the most dominant team in the history of the sport. It’s more David and Goliath than . . . David and Goliath.
Bible analogies, political parallels, and other superlatives aside, it is really just a story about the incredible power of the human spirit. In a time when our country was desperate for hope, a bunch of kids inspired a nation. And behind it all is Kurt Russell—er—Herb Brooks: A man determined to create a miracle.
I really don’t know how to write about the “Miracle on Ice” without sounding like an Elmer’s Glue bottle. I've re-written the last four paragraphs like eight times, and no matter what I type, it all sounds gooey. So, let me say this: Watch “Miracle.” Whether you’ve already seen it, or whether you don’t care for hockey at all, watch it. And while you’re watching things, watch the Olympics. I guarantee there will be moments that you will never forget. And finally, watch this:
Today’s recommendation: Did you know that if the American Men’s Hockey Team wins a medal this year, it will be another miracle? They're being called too young and inexperienced. Sound familiar? I recommend you follow them these next few days. Sequels are rarely comparable to the original, but you never know.