I was going to talk about basketball today...but my bracket is totally busted and I don't even want to think about it...never mind talk about it. Instead I'm going to talk about hockey.
Last week, my friend SJ was in a meeting and totally bored. He was texting me to help alleviate that boredom and then suddenly he stopped. I figured the meeting got out early...but when he called me the next day he explained he had another reason for ignoring me.
SJ: Sorry about the abrupt stop to my communications. The guest speaker was Jim Craig...I love that guy.
Me: Jim Craig...should I know who that is?
SJ: Um...yeah...everyone should know who that is.
This is where I Google Jim Craig and found out that he was the goalie for the 1980 USA Olympic Hockey Team.
Me: You know that in 1980 when that game happened I was 4 years old right? And also, that I hate hockey.
SJ: That game transcended hockey...it was the single greatest sporting event of the 20th century. And don't tell me how old you were then. (SJ is older than me and I like to remind him of that.)
Since this was the single greatest sporting event of the 20th century I figured I should find out a little more about it. So I watched Miracle...the movie about the team starring Kurt Russel as the coach.
You know, sometimes I'll watch a movie about a sporting event that's already happened and it will be so good that I will yell at the TV and sit on the edge of my seat...like I have no idea what's about to happen. This was that kind of movie.
For those of you like me that have no clue why the 1980 Olympics was such a big deal I'll tell you. It was during the height of the Cold War and there was all sorts of madness going on. It was widely acknowledged that the Russians had the best hockey team in the world and had won every championship game they played since 1954. The US team was made up of a bunch of college kids who mostly hated each other. Their coach, Herb Brooks, trained them in a whole new way of playing hockey and he conditioned like no one in the US had ever trained hockey players before.
A few days before the opening ceremony of the Olympics, the US team played the Russians at Madison Square Garden and they lost 10 - 3. No one thought they'd be able to beat the Russians at the games in Lake Placid the following week. And they almost didn't. They were losing at the end of the first period.
But then things started to happen...they made some great plays and they scored a few goals. The Russian coach was so flustered that he ended up taking out his goalie...the best goalie to ever play hockey. In the end, the US team beat the Russians by one goal. And it was more than just winning a hockey game. At that place in time...a bunch of college kids beating the better playing Russians in the US at the Olympics and then going on to win the gold medal...it was symbolic for the country...it was important.
I still hate hockey...but I have to agree with SJ...this particular game transcended hockey...transcended sports really. It was the single greatest sporting even of the 20th century. And the movie isn't bad either.