Today is the 38-year anniversary of the day a scrappy group of American college kids stood down the Soviet Union in the greatest hockey game ever played.
The Soviet Union entered the 1980 winter Olympics in Lake Placid having won the last four gold medals in men’s hockey. They were a force that the Olympic world had never seen before. Everybody knew that when the Soviets took the ice that they were going to win. They weren’t just going to win in a normal sense. No, they were going to obliterate and humiliate their opponents.
Nobody expected the Americans and head coach Herb Brooks to do much or compete with them at all. After all, the Russians blew out the Americans in an exhibition game only days before the Olympics began. It was a slaughter. The Americans looked like a batch of small children playing against gods on the ice.
That’s why the upset of the Soviet Union is the greatest moment in American sports history. Kids who were taking tests in school threw on some skates, took the ice and upset the greatest sports juggernaut in the history of modern sports.
We skated with them, we stuck with them and we shut them down because we could. That’s what the American spirit is all about.
It also gave us the greatest call in sports history, courtesy of Al Michaels.
This game also represented a lot more than just a hockey game. America was on hard times when this game happened. Iran had taken our citizens hostage, the Soviet Union was in Afghanistan and the economy was not roaring. We desperately needed a win, and it came thanks to Herb Brooks and some college kids.
It doesn’t get much more American than that. God bless America, and God bless the United States 1980 Olympic hockey team.