It has been hailed as the greatest story in sports history, the Sports Illustrated cover from the event was voted as the "most iconic cover" in the magazine's rich history and Hollywood reenacted the events in a 2004 movie that some believe to be the greatest sports movie ever.
Yes, the event itself was great. It was fantastic. I recently did a presentation on the Miracle on Ice and the significance it had on television history. First of all, it remains the highest rated hockey game ever. It was aired on tape delay by ABC, something that is unthinkable to today's generation.
It was a miracle that a group of college kids defeated the best hockey team in the world with an average age of 27. The Soviets won the previous four Olympic Gold Medals and would go on to win the next two after 1980. Al Michaels, who did the play-by-play for the game, said that if the US were to finish third, it would be considered a major accomplishment.
The fact that they beat the Soviets, and then, what some don't even realize, beat Finland the next day for the gold medal, was a miracle.
A miracle on ice.
This presentation and the hours of research got me thinking. Do we overuse the word "miracle" today? Is anything truly "miraculous" in sports anymore?
The catch that put the Seahawks in position to win the Super Bowl was called a miracle (RUN THE BALL, PETE!). Malcolm Butler's interception was called a miracle.
The Jackie Robinson West Little League team was called a miracle team.
The no. 13 seed University of Vermont's upset over the no. 4 seed Syracuse in the first round of the 2005 NCAA tournament was called a miracle.
Joe Flacco's 70-yard TD pass to Jacoby Jones tie the 2012 divisional playoff game against the Denver Broncos was called a miracle.
Heck, Josh McCown's 2013 run with the Chicago Bears in which he threw 13 touchdowns and one interception in eight games was called a miracle.
What even is a miracle anymore? Is the term overused? Yes. It is.
And because of that, a true miracle in sports today would most likely just get added to another list or forgotten about the next year.
The Dodgers won the 1988 World Series fueled by Kirk Gibson's home run in game one of the World Series. Can you name the team they beat? Did you even know that was only the first game of a series the Dodgers would win in five games?
Bill Buchner let a routine ground ball go between his legs in game six of the 1986 World Series against the Mets. Can you name the person who hit the grounder? Did you know that play didn't win the Mets the World Series, but just a forced a game seven?
I could do this all day.
There are some great moments in sports that will never be forgotten. The Immaculate Reception, Secretariat, the Boston Red Sox reversing the curst after they came back from down 3-0 in the ALCS to the Yankees, Doug Flutie's Hail Mary, "The Giants Win The Pennant," Jim Valvano and the NC State men's basketball team's 1983 NCAA Tournament run, the Giants upsetting the undefeated Patriots to win Super Bowl XLII.
I could do this all day too.
What would it take to have a miracle today in sports? Not a miracle like some that I listed previously. Some of those were great, but no where close to the level that the 1980 USA Hockey team was on.
What would it take?
A no. 16 seed knocking off an undefeated Kentucky team in the opening round of the NCAA tournament? One player scoring 101 points in an NBA game? A 57 game hit-streak? A Cleveland Browns Super Bowl?
Okay, the last one is pushing it.
The term "miracle" is used way to frequently. It is used so much that a true miracle today may just get put on another list of "the top moments in sports." We would talk about it for a couple of months and slowly forget a majority of the facts about the event.
A bunch of college kids defeating the greatest hockey team that there ever was is the definition of a sports miracle. Josh McCown's nice eight game stretch with the Bears is not. The term is used way to often. We have to learn to appreciate greatness when we have it and not heroify certain games or events that are not miracles, but just great achievements.
Freshman, Broadcast Journalism
Student Advisory Board Member