I was pretty young in 1980. I didn’t really understand the politics surrounding the Lake Placid games. I didn’t know how unbeatable the Soviet team was. I didn’t really know what the Cold War was all about. I didn’t know where Afghanistan was or why the Soviets had invaded it. I didn’t understand why extremists half-way around the world would take Americans hostage . I was too young to know how fragile America was in the late 70s and early 80s. All I knew, as I watched the game (on tape delay, I think, although I didn’t know it at the time) from the living room floor of the Minnesota farm house where I grew up, was that the game that night was BIG.
I’ve said many times that beating the Soviets that night was the greatest moment in the history of American sports.
I was ten years old when the chants of “U!S!A! U!S!A! U!S!A!” crackled out of the little speaker on the little television in our living room. I didn’t really know what was going on, but I was swept up in it. I can still hear Al Michaels screaming “Do you believe in miracles?”, although I don’t know if it’s only because it’s been replayed so many times over the years.
In almost every story about the 1980 US Hockey team, someone says something to the effect of “Few people remember that the game against the Soviets was not the gold medal game. Team USA had to beat Finland later to win the gold.” Do you know why few people remember that?
Because it didn’t matter then and it doesn’t matter now.
We beat the Russians. Herb Brooks was a huge part of that victory.