Tonight I took my entire family to see the movie Miracle, about the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team–the first time in several years I’ve gotten all four kids to see the same film. We loved it. The most striking thing about the movie is the complete absence of sub-plots. In fact, there is only one female character, Patti Brooks. Which didn’t prevent the non-hockey fans in our group (like Mrs. Rocket) from enjoying it immensely.
For Minnesotans, the 1980 team was very much a local phenomenon. If I remember correctly, 12 of the 20 players were from Minnesota. One of the players now lives across a pond from me; as a small child, his daughter brought his gold medal to elementary school (my oldest daughter’s class) for show and tell. This morning I gave a ride home to another girl, a friend of my middle daughter, whose uncle was also on the team. So if this was the greatest sports story of the 20th century, as Sports Illustrated said, it unfolded pretty literally in our back yard.
Herb Brooks is of course the main character in the movie; in a sense, he is the only character. Brooks was a conservative; he seriously considered running for Congress as a Republican, but–perhaps unfortunately, for he certainly would have made a better Congressman than Betty McCollum–he never did. Someone (Churchill, maybe?) said something to the effect that you can’t guarantee victory, but you can deserve victory. That was pretty much Brooks’ approach: he worked his team so hard that by the time they played the Soviets, they felt that they deserved to win. It’s a lesson that is pretty broadly applicable.
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