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It's no miracle

February 23, 2010 - Per Peterson
Speaking as someone who has written thousands of newspaper headlines, it had to have been extremely difficult for desk editors to avoid using the word “miracle” when they wrote the headline for the U.S.A. hockey team’s upset victory over the Canadians in a preliminary round of the 2010 Winter Olympics. The Canadians, after all, are playing in their own backyard, so they have the ultimate fan support. Plus, they flat out have more talent than the Americans. And while this year’s version of Team U.S.A. is once again under-manned on the ice, its win over Canada last weekend doesn’t even hold a candle to what happened 30 years ago in Lake Placid, N.Y. Not even close. The only comparison is both teams have “U.S.A.” on the front of their sweaters. After that, all comparisons must cease. Even if the Americans, who finished 3-0 in the preliminaries, were to keep it going and skate to a gold medal, it’s still not right to compare them to the 1980 team. The most obvious difference is that back in 1980, the United States’ team was basically all kids, college students, playing against grown men — grown men playing for a Soviet Union team that before the Olympics that year, beat three NHL teams in exhibition contests. Today’s American team members play in NHL — it’s men against men, not men against boys. Beating the Russians in that type of political climate, with the weight of the world on their collective shoulders, is the single greatest achievement by any team in any sport. Ever. Nothing even comes close to it and nothing ever will. I hope that if this year’s team does go on to win the gold medal, editors of newspapers around the country, around the world, will avoid the temptation of calling it a miracle. Of course, considering it’s just so easy and so tempting to do it, that would be a miracle in and of itself.


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