Do You Believe in Miracles?

U.S. History in February

Do You Believe in Miracles?

By: Nick Evans

In the 1950s – 1980s, the democratic United States and the communist Soviet Union were involved in the Cold War. This was a clash over whose form of government worked better and what they could achieve for their societies before the other country. This led the Arms Race, which was the push to build nuclear weapons before the other, and the Space Race, which was the campaign to get their citizens into space first.  No physical war was ever declared by either party, but it was far from a friendly competition.

Throughout the 1970s, the Soviet Union built a hockey dynasty whose success echoed across the world year after year in global competitions. The team was part of the Soviet military, so they had an extensive training regimen. The United States, on the other hand, had a history of statistical mediocrity. In 1979, Coach Herb Brooks compiled a team of collegiate hockey players, because at this time the Olympics did not accept professional athletes from the National Hockey League (NHL) or other professional leagues. Before the 1980 Olympics none of these players were on the NHL’s radar. Herb Brooks was able to mold a team that played respectably and inched closer and closer to Olympic glory.

When the United States Olympic hockey team made it to the medal round on February 22, 1980, they met the Soviet Union. During an early exhibition game, the Soviet Union beat the U.S. 10-3. It was a widely accepted opinion that the Soviet Union would easily win, but the United States managed to play a close game. Was it possible they could pull off an epic upset? With the final seconds of the Bronze Medal game of the 1980 Olympics winding down, famed broadcaster Al Michaels exclaimed, “Do you believe in miracles!?” The supreme underdogs, a team made up of collegiate hockey players, had beaten the Soviet Union, an elite team of athletes that trained with militaristic precision. The U.S. team beat out the team whose country represented the “Communist Red Scare”4-3, and would eventually go on to win Olympic gold.

Learn more about the Miracle on Ice at:

Research Questions:

What other events or actions added to the tension between the U.S. and the Soviet Union?

Why are moments like the “Miracle on Ice” points of pride in the U.S. during the Cold War?

Posted February 9, 2017

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