ATLANTA - As if I didn’t have enough reminders that time is flying by me…
I was reminded that it was exactly 40 years ago (February 22, 1980) that the Miracle on Ice occurred. Do you remember? It was that epic Olympic hockey semifinal game between a scrappy bunch of American college kids and The Soviet Union, the greatest team in the world, at the height of the Cold War. A real-life David and Goliath story, and for me, the greatest upset in sports history!
It came during a dark time in our nation’s history. A recession, gas rationing, post-Vietnam, the Iran hostages. National confidence was very low.
I was a freshman in college. All the guys on my floor piled into one room to watch on an old black and white television. We watched because we were taking on “the enemy.” This was an extension of the cold war, symbolically played on a sheet of ice!
No one would admit they had their doubts, though they surely must have had them. We certainly WANTED TO beat the Evil Empire!
We watched three excruciatingly tense periods of hockey in which Team USA did not take the lead until captain, Mike Eruzione scored with still 10-minutes left in the game. An eternity! But they hung on and won!
We screamed. We cheered. We sang God Bless America!
There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. In fact, I still can’t tell this story without getting emotional.
Years later, I saw the movie, Miracle with my family. Obviously, it was entertaining and did a pretty good job of capturing the moment. But I felt like I had to explain to my kids just how important this game really was to the psyche of our country. It was bigger than the game! People felt a part of it. It was one of the reasons I wanted to be a reporter. To tell stories like this one. But I must say, it will be hard to top it.
(The ESPN documentary series 30-for-30, Of Miracles and Men, is a must-see).
For everyone who did not witness this miracle –you had to be there! I wish you were there. It was one of those glorious moments in time when we were all ONE.
It will forever be known as The Miracle on Ice… and I feel lucky to have witnessed it.
I will forever be grateful to the boys on that team, and their coach, the late Herb Brooks.