believe in miracles?
U.S. Olympic hockey victory over the Soviet Union was a sports
and political miracle.
later, it has inspired an entertainment miracle.
is that, in 2004, Hollywood actually released a great movie
that is uplifting, pro-American, and devoid of sex and violence.
That movie, "Miracle," debuts today [Friday, February
6, 2004] and is destined to be a hit. "Miracle"
tells the story of coach Herb Brooks and his 1980 teams
incredible David-versus-Goliath victory.
1981, when U.S. hostages were released from Iran, they viewed
a highlight tape of major events they missed during their
444 days of captivity. Several freed hostages said the highlight
of highlights was Brooks teams semifinal victory
over our Communist nemesis. The victory ultimately led to
a Gold Medal for the U.S. (over Finland).
shouts of "USA, USA," announcer Al Michaels
rhetorical question and answer, "Do you believe in Miracles?
Yes!" is the most memorable sports broadcast quips. Young
boys dressed as the U.S. Hockey Team for several Halloweens
was not just that Americans beat the Soviets. It was that
amateur working-class American kids beat paid, seasoned Russian
professionals. Despite all of the odds against them in a depressing
time of Jimmy Carter malaise, hostages in Iran, double-digit
inflation, a virtually "kick-me" sign on America
around the world, and lines at the gas pump, the American
spirit triumphed. The team of freedom triumphed over the team
of tyranny. The unlikely victory was the first spark in what
became Americas comeback -- the Reagan Revolution.
masterfully tells the story in the context of those events.
While President Carter is decrying Americas bleak future,
the U.S. Hockey team is out of earshot, playing touch football
in the Minnesota snow with the patriotic spirit that portends
of their victory.
may never be another "Miracle on Ice."
Communist threat has largely been replaced by todays
radical Islam arguably a much more potent enemy. Theres
no Bin Laden-sponsored Taliban Hockey Team to beat. The Taliban
was banned from the Games in 1999 because of their treatment
of women. Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad dont
field ice hockey teams for us to beat. Palestinians, who visited
the Olympics as terrorists in 1972, now have an official Olympic
praise of Americas "miracle" amidst chants
of "USA" has been replaced by left-wing sportswriters
admonishing such patriotic displays. At the 2002 Olympics
in Salt Lake City, USA Todays Christine Brennan dedicated
a whole column to denouncing American flag-waving and shouts
of "USA" and any other show of American pride. (Yet,
on PBS, she praised Australians cheering their own at the
2000 Sydney Summer Games. "Theyre charming.")
sportswriter denounced the Salt Lake Games as the most "nationalistic"
since the Hitlers 1936 Berlin Games. American patriotism
now equals Nazism?
Organizing Committee President and now-Massachusetts Republican
Governor Mitt Romney also admonished Americans. "Around
the world it was like, Boy, those Americans, always
beating their chests," he told The Guardian. "This
is not our time to talk about how great America is. Its
not designed to be a patriotic American display."
he didnt say that, when hitting up Congress for Americas
taxpayers to heavily subsidize the already heavily-sponsored
Games featuring multi-millionaire professional athletes.
another difference emphasized in Disneys "Miracle"
playing coach Brooks, tells the audience that the Games and
the athletes he coached were different, then.
todays Olympics are the working-class, amateur U.S.
Hockey Team players who made the 1980 victory over professional,
Soviet-subsidized players twice as sweet. Brooks coached guys
like Mike Eruzione, the team captain who scored the winning
goal against the Soviets, but never played in the professional
National Hockey League (NHL). Guys like goalie Jim Craig,
whose laid-off father desperately needed him to forgo the
Olympics for the money an NHL career would provide. They beat
the Soviets when months earlier an NHL All-Star team could
and his teammates reunited to light the Olympic Cauldron in
Salt Lake in 2002. But it was empty symbolism.
those amateurs--who had spunk, sparkle, and an underdog hunger
to win for the U.S.had long been replaced by "Dream
Teams" of spoiled multi-millionaire, pro athletes. Instead,
players were led by team captain and Detroit Red Wing Chris
Chelios-- who threatened NHL Commissioner Gary Bettmans
life during the 1994-95 NHL lockout, and led the rest of the
U.S. Hockey team in trashing dorm rooms and destroying furniture
as team captain of the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
Thousands were spent haggling with these hockey "pros"
regarding Olympic drug testing policy. Brett Hull whined about
the trip to "far away" Salt Lake Games. On the dorm-trashing
team with Chelios, Hull complained about the distance to Nagano,
shows the grueling conditioning Brooks put the team through.
Its doubtful todays soft pros could withstand
a lick of it.
team was tough and gritty. They had no product endorsements
or part-time jobs by Home Depot and Staples. They were no
billions in tax subsidies. 1980 Olympians slept in converted
prisons on prison cots, and organizers nearly declared bankruptcy
on a $168 million budget. There were no $28 million opening
ceremonies or $2 million temporary Olympic cauldrons and sculptures.
was heavy American pride.
audiences at last weeks sneak preview of "Miracle"
applauded and wept. That Hollywood finally depicts that in
a positive way is a huge "miracle" in 2004.
Schlussel used to represent coddled NHL players.]