Do You Believe In Miracles?

When I first read the prompt for this week, I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” I HATE conspiracy theories. To me, all conspiracy theorists are is a bunch of idiots propagating uneducated opinions and ideas, with just enough appeal to a vulnerable society to create a following similar to lemmings. But alas, I thought of one way to make this post interesting: by googling hockey conspiracy theories. And what do you know, there’s even a top 15. The most significant and interesting one to me though, questions the Miracle that occurred February 22, 1980. This wasn’t just another of my mother’s or George Washington’s birthdays, this was the day that Team USA beat the Soviets in the Olympics on our own soil. This was the greatest day of the Cold War Era. This was the greatest game in the the history of hockey. AND THEORISTS THINK THERE WAS A CONSPIRACY BEHIND THIS WIN?!?! Screw em. Even bleacher report analysts find it hard to believe that the miracleSoviets would throw a gold medal in hockey just to appease President Carter and convince the US not to boycott the Moscow Olympics.

Reading this conspiracy theory set me off on a rampage to defend my nation and the integrity of the greatest game in the world: I needed to watch Miracle. I was very angry when I could not find the movie online for free, but I found an even better documentary featuring the actual members on both sides of the 1980 teams (part 1, part 2, and part 3) that won’t embed on this blog due to its settings but you should watch if you are at all interested in the actual history not spun by Disney. However, Kurt Russell gives us a pretty good idea of the situation at hand:

And attack they did. The US did not face the Soviets until the medal round when they needed a little extra inspiration to take on the best team in the world:

Yes, the Russians were a great hockey team. No argument there. But there is no doubt in my mind that the US college kids beat those “God damn Commies” fair and square and I’m pretty sure this is what Herb Brooks would have some choice words to say to any doubters (see 25 seconds in):

Sports and Ethics Go Hand-in-Hand

For someone who’s life has essentially revolved around sports, this is finally a prompt that I’m interested in writing. I rowed for just two years before college, but have competed in both the lightweight (130.0 lbs maximum) and openweight categories while at Bucknell. More importantly, I’ve been involved in hockey as a player since I could walk, as a referee for the last six years, and now as an intern for the Hershey Bears in the AHL. So to say I’ve seen my fair share of ethics play out in sports is an understatement.

The NCAA very actively attempts to ensure ethical behavior, especially in recruiting and compliance. Their entire process is a hassle for the 99% (figuratively) of athletes that report honest test scores, medical history, amateur status, and drug (non)use. Most student-athletes don’t even understand what the NCAA actually does, but we all just go to the meetings, sign the papers, and try not to get caught doing anything stupid that would cause an investigation. Although the NCAA is far from an exemplary organization itself (read about the NCAA’s Ethics Problem according to the New York Times), it does encourage ethical behavior from its athletes and coaches as stated in their operating bylaws. How well these rules are actually followed and how well they can be monitored is whole other story, but in general the NCAA imposes some ethical boundaries that promote fair competition and sportsmanship but it is up to individuals to actually make the ethical decisions. Although I have never had to verify practice hours, I know of coaches that do exceed the allowable weekly hours and put their players in a difficult ethical position when they are asked to confirm team compliance.

As a referee, I run through more ethical questions in my head in one game than I would otherwise in a year. Continue reading