Or, why was it such a big deal when the USA Hockey Team defeated the Soviets?
In 1980, the USA hockey team defeated the Soviets and then went on to win Olympic Gold.
The USA Hockey Team was made up of college kids. At the time, the Americans still held firm to the notion that its athletes should be amateurs. At best, these kids were scrappy. They were a "blue-collar, lunch-pail" group of guys. They had to make do with what they had available to them. Not much more than paupers.
The Soviets, on the other, fielded a team of their best professional players--among the most skilled hockey players in the world. The team had every resource available to them: the best coaches, equipment, training. Indeed, they were treated like royalty.
It was a time when the United States was down on its luck. There was an energy crisis followed by a recession. Fifty-two Americans were being held hostage in Iran. American flags were burned. Trauma from the Vietnam War lingered. The Cold War raged on. And it kind of felt like the Russians were winning.
So there was a lot riding on this game. Not just for this team, it's players, but for every American.
Against all odds, when the USA Hockey team took the ice on February 22, 1980, in Lake Placid, NY, the Americans held off the Soviets in the third period to win the game and advance to the Gold medal game against the Finns two days later. It was inconceivable that this would happen.
It was a miracle. But how?
"This was a case when a magical coach got a magical bunch of kids to believe they could do something they really couldn't."