Unwarranted backlash of the Miracle On Ice team


Adam Albright

Just a few weeks ago marked the 40th anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice” team’s victory over the Soviet Union. For those of you who don’t know much about hockey or the team, or don’t understand the magnitude of it, let me give you a summary.

In 1960, a young Herb Brooks who became the coach of the 1980 Miracle on Ice team, was on the U.S. Olympic hockey team as a player. However, Herb got cut just 3 weeks before the Olympic games started and watched his team win the gold medal while sitting on his couch. Was this devastating? Sure. But for those of you who don’t know, Herb was not the type of man to accept defeat. It motivated him to become a coach and a winning coach at that.

Herb went on to coach our very own Minnesota Gophers and led them to 3 national titles in the mid-late ’70s–Rah. After his incredible record with the Gophers, he was hired to become the 1980 US Olympic team’s head coach. Back then U.S. Olympic hockey consisted of college players, so Herb saw a lot of familiar faces in Colorado Springs where the players tried out, for the tryouts consisted of many players that played for him at Minnesota. The committee wanted Herb to select the best of the best talent, as they all had an end goal of beating the Soviets. They were not only historical rivals with the Soviets, but the cold war tensions were at an all-time high, and the Soviets were the best team in the world. They were outright dominant. What they didn’t know was that Herb had a little bit more motivation than them, and had a strategic plan in his head all along.

Herb knew his team with still multiple days of tryouts left and told the committee that he had it. They were shocked, upset, and could not understand his rationale. Herb didn’t solely select the most skilled players at the tryout, and even some of those most skilled players were some of the Gophers that had played for him for years. He even put his national championship-winning goalie Steve Janicek at backup, having Jim Craig as the starter. I’ll never forget the fact that when they questioned that decision, they said Jim Craig had been off due to his mom passing within that last year. Herb responded, “You ever see him when he’s on?” That quote right there sums up everything. The fact is that Herb Brooks was a genius and knew more about each player and the game itself than the whole room did, combined. 

Herb was a hard coach, a coach who had no interest in being a friend. But he was a winner and one that demanded respect, respect that’s well deserved. I can go into detail about the journey of the Miracle on Ice team, the ups and downs, the wins and losses, but that’s not what I’m writing about as we all know how it ends. Beating the Soviets in the semi-finals, which by the way consisted of 30-year-olds who had beaten the NHL All-Star team in the United States that year. That’s right, a bunch of college kids from rival schools came together and beat the best team in the world. They then went on to win the gold medal versus Finland, completing the journey.

What I am writing about today is the disrespect they were treated with over social media following the attendance at a Trump Rally. For those of you who don’t know, 14 members of that team attended a Trump Rally just a few weeks ago following the anniversary so they could be honored by the POTUS and the people in attendance. A pretty special thing, right? One would think, but unfortunately, the players received threats, hurtful tweets and other messages on social media all because they attended the Trump rally and wore Keep America Great hats. Some of the tweets were as follows. “A shame on all of you for wearing those divisive, racist hats… 40 years ago, you brought joy, but tonight it’s deep sadness.” Another one read this. “40 years ago you beat the Russians, but today you let the Russians beat you.” I’m sorry, what? They are being honored by the President and the American people for providing us with one of the most monumental, unifying sports victories of all time. 

It’s frustrating because back then they were just a group of college students playing a hockey game, not focused on the political weight it carried. Today, that remains the same. The Miracle team tweeted after facing the backlash, “To us, this is not about politics or choosing sides, This is about proudly representing the United States of America. Whether your beliefs are Democratic, Republican or Independent, etc. we support that and are proud to represent the USA.” We are a democracy, and the backlash they faced is what makes our society divisive, not the hats they wore. 

I can’t begin to fathom my frustration as a kid who values hockey, that team itself, and my country. The miracle team shaped my youth as I was a hockey player all my life growing up in Minnesota. To see what was a bunch of college kids come together and put their bodies, minds, and time on the line to represent our country, now face backlash for attending a presidential rally to be honored saddens me and is completely unwarranted. 

What the Miracle on Ice team did was one of the most influential sports victories in history, and one that they should be proud of until the day they die, as well as their families. So, for those of you who agree with the people who tweeted those disrespectful and narrow-minded tweets, sit back, watch the Miracle on Ice movie, educate yourselves, and think about how you would feel if you accomplished something of that magnitude only to for you to be ridiculed for attending an event 40 years later. I will forever love and cherish that team, and I hope they don’t allow this to decimate the love and respect they have for themselves, and their teammates.