Every Olympic Games has controversy, pageantry, moments we’d like to celebrate and others we’d like to forget. What brings them all together is that they are shared moments and as a nation we share them by watching them on television. Before cable was widespread, and the internet offered Twitter feeds and spoilers, we watched together as a nation on broadcast television.
As the US-Russian hockey rivalry heats up in Sochi, it brings back memories of a stinging defeat of the Soviet Olympic hockey team–a product of the mighty Soviet sports machine–by a group of amateur American college hockey players. Most of the players on the American team playing in Sochi weren’t even born when the Miracle on Ice was played 34 years ago, but that game is still part of the Russian-American rivalry.
The Miracle on Ice took place on February 22, 1980 in Lake Placid, NY. The Soviet Union vs. the US in ice hockey. In an exhibition game prior to the Olympics the Soviets wiped out the American team with a final score of 10-3. No one expected this game to be any different.
American coach Herb Brooks had a few more tricks up his sleeve and at the end of the second period in a last second goal the Americans tied the game 2-2. Everyone watching the game thought, “Wow! The Americans might actually WIN this game.” It was unbelievable that a group of college kids might beat the mighty Soviet team. American flags were waving throughout the arena. As the clock wound the score was 4-3 in favor of the Americans. Commentator Al Michaels counted down the last ten seconds, with the famous “Do you believe in miracles?” And yes, it was a miracle on ice that the entire country celebrated.
So why is a blog on an HDTV antenna website writing about past Olympics? It’s really about the power of TV to reach a wide audience and to create shared experiences both good and bad. Watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon and the Miracle on Ice brought the world into our living rooms and added to our collective memory. This is really the power that over-the-air TV has over streaming content and cable TV. Over-the-air TV is available to for free and helps create those collective experiences that become part of the national psyche.