How a Hockey Game United America: Miracle on Ice and the Cold War

“Do you believe in Miracles?… Yes!”. This, one of the most memorable moments in broadcasting history was uttered in sheer disbelief by Al Michaels as the United States hockey team defeated the Soviet Union squad in the semifinals of the 1980 Winter Olympic games, despite facing seemingly impossible odds against them. This however was not just a victory on the ice in Lake Placid, New York, but a victory for democracy across the world. This victory meant so much more than a gold medal, it was a moment to serve as a unifying force in the heat of the Cold War.

It is no secret that the Olympic Games are not only a display of a country’s athletic prowess, but an opportunity to show their country’s overall superiority. When an Olympic medal is won, it is a moment for the entire world to watch as a nation’s athletes are stood at attention, its spectators belting their national anthem, and its flag flying high in the rafters. While oftentimes the Olympic Games serve to ease international tensions in times of political strife, other times, these international relations are magnified on an even greater scale.

These tensions were arguably at their highest when the US hockey team, consisting entirely of amateurs from various college programs took on the team from the USSR, made of Soviet quasi-professionals, who had won five of the previous six Olympic gold medals, and thirteen out of the previous sixteen world championships (Coffey, 35). The 1980 iteration of the USSR hockey team was seemingly unbeatable, as they defeated the NHL All Star Team 6-0. They also defeated the same US Olympic team just weeks before the Olympics by seven goals at Madison Square Garden (Coffey, 46-48).

To understand the ramification of this game, you have to first understand the world political climate of the time, particularly between the Soviet Union and the United States, and the razor thin line dividing the world between tension and nuclear war. This was immediately following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, and the immediate response of President Reagan, which was to institute what was known as “The Reagan Doctrine”, which focused on dissolving communist nations in Eastern Europe. It was a period of time which many look back upon as the most tense period of the Cold War since the Cuban Missile Crisis (Seifreid, 116-117). It was common knowledge that the Soviets held great disdain for America, and the capitalism which it holds so dear. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was quoted saying “Our firm conviction is that sooner or later Capitalism will give way to socialism. Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you” (Khrushchev, 1956). It was no secret that there was bad blood between the two countries, and these tensions were at their highest leading up to these 1980 Winter Games. This attitude carried over to the players as well. American goalie Jim Craig was quoted saying “I hate them. I don’t hate their hockey players specifically, but I hate what they stand for” (Abelson, 84).

While the Soviets essentially had a professional team—professionals were not allowed in the Winter Games, but Soviet players only trained and practiced, while being “employed” elsewhere—and the US team had only joined together in the summer of 1979, while their Soviet counterparts (for the most part) had been skating together for the better part of a decade. The American team was the youngest team in the field, with an average age of 21, and much less experienced than their Soviet counterparts.

When it came time for the semifinal match up, which was for most, of biblical David and Goliath proportions, few gave the Americans a fighting chance. The day before the game, New York Times columnist Dave Anderson wrote “Unless the ice melts, or unless the United States team or another team performs a miracle…the Russians are expected to easily win the Olympic gold medal” (Anderson, New York Times, February 21, 1980).

The most significant moment of the game occurred as time was waning in the first period, when Mark Johnson found an errant rebound and sent it to the back of the net as time expired, tying the game at two. This caused Soviet Coach Victor Tikhonov to remove goalie, Vladislav Tretiak, who was considered the best goaltender in the world. Tikhonov considers this to have been the turning point in the game, and the “biggest mistake in my career” (Coffey, 150-155).

With ten minutes remaining in the game, captain Mike Eruzione, connected from roughly thirty feet out, giving the Americans their first lead of the game, which they would not relinquish (Coffey, 360-374). As time wound down, the crowd began to countdown the seconds, when Al Michaels joined them in making his famous “Do you believe in miracles?” call. As the clock stuck zero, the American team poured out onto the ice, while Coach Brooks ran back into the locker room and wept, as he was overcome with emotion after witnessing his team defeat one of the best teams ever to play the game (Coffey, 387).

This victory was monumental in the course of 1980 worldwide tension. This came as President Jimmy Carter announced that the United States will be boycotting the 1980 summer games in Moscow in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, as the US House of Representatives approved the boycott by a vote of 386 to 12 (State Department Website). This uplifting moment came when it was most needed. Americans were at a point where they were starting to lose faith in their country, coming off the heels of the disaster of Vietnam, and the first three years of Carter’s presidency, which saw inflation rise, and Americans taken hostage by Iran. This victory gave something to all Americans, a renewed optimism in their country.

While the Americans were filled with joy after this monumental victory, the Russians had the opposite reaction to their loss. Current Russian goalie Evgeni Nabokov spoke about that 1980 game as something that isn’t discussed back in Russia, saying that the story of the game was “never actually told to us” (Nabokov interview, AP 2010). This was done intentionally, as Soviets did their best to ensure that they seemed superior to the Americans. This was a black eye on the Soviet attitude of superiority towards America, and this would spread to the citizens of the country, and across the world.

The victory of US Hockey over USSR was not just a semifinal matchup at the 1980 Olympics games in Lake Placid, New York. It was a victory of David over Goliath, a victory of amateur versus professional, of youth versus age, of desire versus talent, and most importantly; of democracy over communism.

Suggested Reading:

Donald Abelson: Politics on Ice: The United States, the Soviet Union, and A Hockey Game in Lake Placid. 

Wayne Coffey: The Boys of Winter. 

Chad Seifreid: An Exploration into Melodrama and Sport, The ‘Miracle on Ice’ and the Cold War Lens. 

Bonus: Here is Kurt Russell, playing American Coach Herb Brooks in the 2004 film, Miracle, portraying Coach Brooks’ final speech to his team before the game. Arguably one of the best sport movie speeches of all time.


Run for the Life: a look into Marathon

When I decided to sign up for my first full marathon in Hawaii, I didn’t think of the reason I like marathon and the reason I wanted to take part in a marathon was just the reasons for marathon lovers in the past. I like marathon because it is a sport that could make me feel good about myself. Completing a marathon suggests I have an indefatigable and positive attitude towards life. “You are the one who can run 26.2 miles for one time, what other things that could defeat you?” Every marathon runner could get this impression when they finish one. And the reason Marathon is loved by people throughout history is that it is such a democratic sport that almost everyone could feel and be inspired with its spirit. No expensive apparatus to buy, just a pair of comfortable sneakers and your courage. However, everyone knows that running 26.2 miles is demanding and could not be attained easily. The combination of accessibility and insurmountablity bring people at different periods to admire this game.


The first Marathon was held in 1896 Olympic Game in Greece to commemorate the Greek war happened in the ancient Marathon town. It was certain that the sport was designed to be insurmountable as it was supposed to remind people of the ancient glory coming with effort and blood. In fact, there was only 15 runners participated in 1896 Marathon, and only 8 completed it. After 1896, Boston Athletic Association(BAA) held Boston Marathon almost every year, which became one of the most prominent Marathon games. The designers might not anticipate the extent of masochistic nature of human beings. Within decades, the tedious and seemingly insurmountable marathon became popular, and many people took part in it as a ritual to ignite their passion for life. 1903 Marathon runner John C Lorden ran as a defiance to his doctor, who claimed that his physical condition prohibited him from taking in any intense activity. And through successfully completing a Marathon, Lorden proved himself more capable than his doctor claimed. And a more recent runner Jack Fultz, who won the 1977 Boston Marathon, ran the marathon because he did not want to “work just for the sake of weekly paychecks”. These are brave men who interpreted the marathon spirit, which is never to conform into an unsatisfactory life.


But Marathon spirit not only affects individuals but also affects communities. In 1942, which was during a heat moment in WW2, Boston governor “requested that the race be run on Sunday instead so defense workers could watch” because “a nation needs men of stamina and physical endurance”. And interestingly, the 1945 Boston Marathon held the smallest field since 1903 as there were only 56 runners showing up. 1945 was the year in vicinity to the victory of WW2, with Berlin being besieged and Japan approaching surrender. It was not sure that the reason that American did not take part in 1945 Marathon was that they did not need much stamina since they had already seen the victory, but it is sure that Marathon could inspire people in harsh time.


It is also interesting to see that Marathon, as a non-team sport, could inspire communities through individuals. Usually, it is the excellent cooperation in a team game that brings up a strong sense of togetherness among spectators. However, although marathon is a game performed by individuals, modern marathon runners feel it a res

ponsibility and honor to represent their communities. National pride is one reason that the runners struggle for. In 1951 when Japan was under the conquer of General McArthur, some Japanese took part in the Boston Marathon in order to show their strong will and capability. And the female runner Wanda Panfil who ran in 1992 Marathon said she had the duty to run for her gender. The glory of running a marathon expands from individual runners to the communities they stand for. In these cases, the Japanese and Wanda Panfil were underdogs in international prestige and gender disadvantage, and they both chose Marathon to perform their strength.


And as mentioned in the beginning, Marathon has been a democratic sport accessible to everyone, and is becoming even profitable. Some poor people would even like to “pay” for a running. In 1937, which was when the American started its economic booming, an unemployed man Walter Young pawned his previous wallet he won in the 20-miler for money to cover the Marathon race. And BAA “finally accepted that top athletes received money for top performances” in 1986. This attracted many competitive African runners, who could make a one-year earning for their family for just showing up on the race and ranking high. These further prove the universal spirit of Marathon. Life is miserable, but people can run Marathon, eithe

r for a kick in life or for money to make better life.


In 2016 Hawaii marathon, I spent seven and a half hours completing it, which was a really “amateur” performance. But still, I felt the stamina of this game when I saw people applauding for an over-80-year-old elderly pacing on the race track. This has been the marathon spirit, an indomitable and positive attitude towards life, and marathon spirit never dies.

Sutcliffe, Mark, and Bart Yasso. Long Road to Boston: The Pursuit of the World’s Most Coveted Marathon. Ottawa: Great River Media, 2016.
Derderian, Tom. Boston Marathon: Year-by-year Stories of the World’s Premier Running Event. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing, 2017.

The Strange Case of Bill Buckner

October 25, 1986. It is the bottom of the 11th inning, and the Boston Red Sox are one out from ending a 68-year World Series drought. The vast majority of Boston fans have never seen their team win the championship, but their time has come. Up in the series 3-2, the Sox have two outs, but their fate is not yet sealed. The Mets begin a two-out rally and tie the score on a wild pitch. With a runner at third, Boston needs one out. The stadium-crowd, and the television audience beyond, intently watches as a routine ball is hit to first base, but before Sox fans can breath a sigh of relief, the ball dribbles between Bill Buckner’s legs and down the right field line as the winning runner scores, triggering a seventh game. The Red Sox go on to lose the series, and among baseball fans, especially those from Boston, Buckner’s name — once beloved — lives in infamy. 

Almost immediately, the blowback materialized. Boston fans loudly complained to reporters that “[they]’ve been waiting for decades for a championship,” while others exclaimed that “Bill Buckner can rot in hell.” But, in a game in which errors are common, why is Buckner so reviled among fans of the sport? 

The answer lies in baseball history. Since the late-19th century, Americans have viewed baseball as a representation of American pride, patriotism and identity, and it manifests itself in the fact that the game is “imbued with ritual, magic, myth, and imitations of immortality” (Grella 550) . This romanticism of baseball is reflected in two predominant aspects of the sport: statistics and the Hall of Fame. “First and foremost, major league baseball compiles voluminous statistics on virtually every aspect of player performance” (Allen and Parsons 809).Further, the baseball Hall of Fame serves to historicize the sport as ‘The Great American Game.’ Thus, the institution, which judges players based on their statistics, “represents … the relationship between achievement and consecration” of a player into the long history of baseball and American culture (Allen and Parsons 809). For this reason, baseball fans today tend to look to the Golden Era of baseball and remember Hall of Famers, including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Micky Mantle, and Ted Williams, not only as players of the game, but as deities that all players today strive to emulate. This cultural aspect of American baseball is of key importance to the understanding of the sentiment of Red Sox fans and its ramifications in the 1986 World Series.

All Red Sox fans and players, going into the World Series, knew the Curse of the Bambino. The legend states that the 1919 Red Sox trade of Babe Ruth to the Yankees cursed the franchise, preventing them from winning another title. Further, the drought served to justify the truth of such a curse. This was on the minds of every player and spectator in the 1986 World Series, especially Bill Buckner. Weeks before the game, Buckner revealed his feelings in an interview: “The dreams are that you are gonna have a great series and win, and the nightmares are that the winning run will score on a groundball through your legs.”

As the possibility of the win seemed more likely, the pressure to win the game grew. Not only did Boston players hope to bookend the legend of the Red Sox tradition but each player sought to live up to the standard of the greatest players and assume their own place in baseball history. As game 6 of the series dragged on, the fans hoped and the players dreamed. Ultimately, those dreams came down upon one man in the final minutes of the game. Thus, the mental pressure of that moment made easier the possibility of failure, which Bill Buckner experienced, followed by humiliation. Buckner, just like so many before him, became a victim of the Curse of the Bambino.

Sports psychology has attempted to understand why players, such as Buckner, are susceptible to failure in pressure situations. Team psychologist for the Cleveland Indians, Charlie Maher, labels the affliction “misplaced focus.” He claims that the phenomenon is not physical but wholly mental: “If [a player’s] focus is really misplaced, it’s on results. It’s on what people are thinking. It gets them away from the fluidity of the process of the game.”

This misplaced focus, the worry of not making the play, to which Buckner alluded just 19 days prior, is what Buckner experienced. He was focused on the results — the possibility of ending the 68-year drought and assuming his place among the great baseball players — rather than fielding the groundball and making the third out.

Bill Buckner is one of the most remembered players in recent baseball history, but he is infamous rather than glorious. As stated by Bob Ryan from the Boston Globe, “when that ball went through Buckner’s legs, hundreds of thousands of people did not view it as an error but as something he had done to them personally.” Buckner’s legacy elicits an emotional response among baseball fans because his error represents the desires of fans to cheer their team to victory, the hopes of players to be remembered as one of ‘the greats,’ and the ultimate truth that only few succeed in the end. Today, Buckner holds a place in baseball history — not one that emulates Babe Ruth and the Golden Age of baseball, but one that reminds all who play and watch that it is a game of failure, but that the possibility of success amid that failure is what makes baseball so great.


Allen, Michael Patrick, and Nicholas L. Parsons. “The Institutionalization of Fame: Achievement, Recognition, and Cultural Consecration in Baseball.” American Sociological Review 71, no. 5 (October 2006): 808-25. Accessed March 11, 2018. JSTOR.

“Bill Buckner: Behind the Bag.” In E:60. ESPN. October 25, 2011. Accessed March 11, 2018.

Grella, George. “Baseball and the American Dream.” The Massachusetts Review 16, no. 3 (Summer 1975): 550-67. Accessed March 11, 2018. JSTOR.

Meisel, Zack. “The Yips: Difficult to Understand, Difficult to Cure.” May 10, 2013. Accessed March 11, 2018.


The Legitimacy of Esports

There’s a battle going on in the world of sports today. It isn’t for baseball or basketball, rugby or soccer. It’s a team-based effort, involving skill, intellect, and trained physical ability, yet it hasn’t existed for a second of its life without having its legitimacy questioned. Despite this, even in its infancy it’s growing faster than anyone could have imagined, and it goes by the name of “esports”.

So then, what exactly are esports? Essentially, esports are video games that can be played at a highly competitive level, either by talented individuals or coordinated, skilled teams depending on the game. Titles such as League of Legends and DOTA 2 are among the biggest of these esports, whereas Super Smash Bros. and the relatively new team-based shooter game, Overwatch also garner much attention in the esports world, with Overwatch even having an entire esports league developed around it.

The issue with esports is that they aren’t often considered viable. Why is this? I’d argue that a good amount of the bias comes from the fact that we’ve never seen anything like them before. Everything previously considered a sport has generally kept a few key features. With the invention of baseball, basketball, rugby, soccer, and even cricket, all these major sports include acts of intense physical activity at some point or another, namely running. Because of this focus on the physical, esports are criticized in the same way that chess is, as they aren’t highly physical games.

Take, for instance, how Guttmann defines sports in his well-renowned piece From Ritual to Record: The Nature of Modern Sports. An excellent introductory piece to modern sports, Guttmann breaks down play, games, and sports into multiple dichotomies. Play can either be spontaneous or organized. When it’s organized it becomes a game, which can either be noncompetitive or competitive. If a game is competitive, it can be an intellectual contest or a physical contest, in which it is finally recognized as a sport.

However, this argument causes issues for even Guttmann when attempting to categorize car and horse racing, as both require physical ability and exertion from the individual, yet also rely on a horse or car. This suggests that the problem is with how we have adapted our view of what a sport is across history.

In his review of Spivey’s work on the ancient Greek Olympic Games, Van Nijf writes that, “Spivey is certainly right to emphasize the military (and political) associations of the games, but […] [t]he earliest accounts of sport suggest a different line: in Homer, athletic competition was used to establish man’s value among his peers, not as a form of warfare.”

So if the initial purpose of sport was to establish value, why is it that we focus so heavily on the physical aspects of sports, to where something that is equally challenging is denied acceptance as a sport? Esports require the same teamwork, intelligence, and coordination that, say, basketball does, yet because it is less about running and more about quick hand-eye-coordinated movements it is illegitimate?

As written in Educational Technology, “esports should be considered a legitimate sport because they combine ‘abilities such as hand-eye-coordination, dexterity, and reaction speed as well as tactical understanding. Players are organized into teams […] and often are sponsored internationally.’” Interestingly, these are the same things that major sports include.

For instance, take team Cloud 9 from Overwatch. They’re a professional team that practices together in just the same way as, say, the University of Michigan Wolverines might. However, both teams have hilariously suffered embarrassments of failed coordination in the past. As noted in Reader’s Digest, in 1993, Chris Webber of the Wolverines called for a time-out losing North Carolina at 73-71 with only 11 seconds on the clock. Unfortunately, his team was out of time-outs, and thus he was given a technical foul, losing his team the game 77-71. Similarly, Cloud 9 (or C9) lost multiple rounds in Overwatch for failing to communicate and realize that an enemy was capturing their objective. Forever on, in any game played of Overwatch, if a game is lost due to failing to pay mind to the objective, the failure is referred to as a “C9” (a video of this is attached to the post).

In conclusion, in esports, you have the same level of organization and competition that Guttmann calls for in sports, and you not only have physical ability involved, but also intellectual ability. Not only that, but there are teams, leagues, and rules just like sports. The physical requirements may not necessarily be as taxing as, say, running around, but the amount of training and physical challenge required (see the player who averages 5-6 controller inputs per second in the attached Melee video) in esports is definitely the same and should no doubt qualify it as a sport. They not only include everything required for sports, but also bridge the gap between the intellectual and physical divide that once existed in definitions of sport.

Works Cited

Engerman, Jason A., and Robert J. Hein. “ESports Gaming and You.” Educational Technology 57, no. 2 (2017): 62-64.

Guttmann, Allen. From Ritual to Record: the Nature of Modern Sports. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012.

Madden, Steve. “5 Worst Mistakes in Sports History | Reader’s Digest.” Reader’s Digest. February 08, 2017. Accessed March 09, 2018.

Van Nijf, Onno M. The International History Review 27, no. 4 (2005): 819-20.



Controversy at the Bowls?

The Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Cotton Bowl Classic, and Fiesta Bowl need no explanation when it comes to those who follow college football. These are the very popular post-season football games that are a great privilege to be apart of as an NCAA Division I football player.  The start of the ever-growing tradition started with The Rose Bowl, which has been coined “the granddaddy of them all”. It is also where the name “bowl game” originated. The bowl was first played on January 1, 1902, in Pasadena, California by Michigan and Stanford. (Michigan won 49-0). The game was a match-up between the Eastern and Western parts of the country hosted by the Tournament of Roses Association. However, the game did not become an annual event until 1916 where the tradition of playing on New Years Day began. It wasn’t until the 1930’s that more bowls were created (The Sugar Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Sun Bowl, and the Cotton Bowl Classic), this was in part because cities saw how the games could promote tourism. Now, as previously mentioned, there are a total of 39 bowl games to be played by the 115 teams of NCAA Division I football. The more favored games are the ones apart of the playoffs for the national championship, these change every year based on a rotation. The games are very popular among teams and colleges because of the financial interest of participating. For the traditional bowl games such as the ones mentioned above, teams can earn upwards of 10 million dollars.

One might ask how the teams are chosen for these prestigious games, especially the ones used for the playoffs like The Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, for example. One of the most basic rules to even be considered for a bowl game is that the team must have 6 regular season wins. Some bowl games have predisposed contracts that they have to follow, for example, the Alamo Bowl always plays a team from the Big 10 and the Big 12 conference. However, in order to determine who gets into the playoff bowl games a committee, The bowl-championship-series committee (BCS), uses ranking systems. These systems include national polls, such as the USA Today, ESPN Coaches’ Poll and the AP Writers’ Poll, computer based-rankings, and the “eye-test”. The “eye test” is judging which teams would be best in the playoffs, purely based off of observation. Of course, as with any sport, the ranking systems are all seen as controversial because many believe that if their beloved teams do not get chosen it is due to favoritism among conferences or teams.

So how does the BCS decide which factors play larger roles than others in the formula they use, especially, when trying to determine what system would be the best overall and ultimately  “fair” to all the teams?  A study was done by Joseph Martinich, of the University of Missouri, can be used to determine what ranking system works best in the formula used by the BCS to pick the playoff teams. It should be noted that this study was conducted in 2002 so the BSC rules have been changed or modified but the overall effect still holds true. Martinich wanted to know if things such as victory margin and head to head match ups of the teams being considered for the bowls games would affect the computer ranking systems and the polls. He concluded that polls of coaches and sports writers and computer ranking systems were both equally accurate and good, even if they were using different information. Meaning that both the polls and eye test gave the same results as an unbiased computer system. So the continuing debate over whether the committee is biased is a mute-point as rankings would be accurate no matter how they were generated, by a computer or person.


Martinich, Joseph. “College Football Rankings: Do the Computers Know Best?” Interfaces, vol. 32, no. 5, 2002, pp. 85–94.

Unlimited Power: The Meteoric Rise and Fall of Group B Rally

The 1980s was a glorious era of excess. Big hair, neon lights, and cars that went way too fast were not only a staple of the Reagan United States. In Europe, the sport of Rally was about to reach an exciting new high. A relaxation of regulations in the sport by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) meant Rally cars were lighter and running more horsepower than ever before. This lead to a rebirth in the sport which reinvigorated interest in the sport and created a legacy which Rally fans still consider a golden age for the sport. Unfortunately, the same things that made Group B Rally great were directly responsible for its downfall. The excess ended up becoming a great danger to drivers and spectators and Group B was banned after only four seasons.

Rally is a highly unique motorsport. The races are run in stages with staggered starts and the goal is not to pass opponents but to beat their overall times. Rally is not door-to-door racing as seen in almost every other kind of motorsport. Instead, Rally drivers and their integral co-driver (who calls out turn information) navigate courses that are often times not paved, in conditions that most people struggle to drive in at a commuting speed. The crews of these cars do not have the luxury of caution. They have to navigate hairpins and jumps on ice, on cliffs, and in crowds of spectators. Watching some of the feats of car handling in Rally makes Hollywood look pedestrian. Rally is as much a race against other drivers as it is against the natural landscape of the many places in which races are held. However, it is still very much about speed and in its most simple terms; the most horsepower and torque at the lowest overall weight is the ideal set-up for setting blistering stage times. Until 1982 there were many regulations placed on Rally by the FIA and in that banner year, Group B was created.

Group B in and of itself is nothing more than a regulation class. There were no changes to the basic rules of Rally, however, the cars became devils. Originally, a company building a Rally car had to turn out 400 general public production versions of their race car; Group B halved that number. The relaxed technology regulations saw cars that were closer to fighter jets than their original production models. Amongst these beasts, the Ford RS200, the Lancia Delta S4, and the Audi Sport Quattro stood above the pack. With the Lancia and Audi producing a rivalry which was as big in the Rally world as the Yankees and the Red Sox. Maurice Guaslard, head of Michelin’s rally program said “Rallying has reached a point such that the speed limitation is the profile of the road…They cannot go any faster!” Stage times began to be separated by ~3 seconds, a difference which is almost unheard of in Rally and one which makes for extremely exciting racing. With a roster populated by some of the best drivers in Rally history and major European auto giants squaring off across the globe, the crowd draw at these races were incredible. For a couple years it was a racing euphoria and responsible for some of the greatest racing stories in motorsport history. However, the dangers were looming on the horizon. Crowds were getting too large and too unruly. The speed of the cars had drivers reacting in split-seconds. It was all about to come to a violent end.

Deregulation creates an incredible spectacle in a short span of time. However, some would argue that over time the unchecked excess will eventually swing back the other way and do more harm than it ever did good. This was true for Group B Rally in an almost immediate way. Group B began in 1982, by its end in 1986 four accidents had proven fatal for at least one of the crew members in a car. As well there was one particularly disturbing event in which Joaquim Santos plowed into a crowd in Portugal, killing 3 and injuring more than thirty. Rally was a dangerous affair which, in a lot of ways, created the draw. However, FIA organizers realized that the lack of car regulations and the burgeoning lack of crowd control was only going to continue to become more dangerous. The proverbial last straw came on May 2nd, 1986 when Finnish driver and championship leader Toivonen lost control on a turn in the France rally. He and his co-driver Sergio Cresto were killed, hours later Group B was banned from competing in the 1987 season.

Only 4 years separated the beginning and end of Group B Rally. However, those four years contained enough great racing that Rally fans still talk about the era with glorious reverence. There is a solemn nature to speaking about Group B, a grim understanding that the outlaw nature fans loved about it were also the reasons why it was nipped so early in its life. Rally at its absolute core is about pushing the limits of car and driver and for a brief moment there were no limits. No regulations to hold back the field or create equity and balance. Much like the decade it starred in, Group B was pure indulgence. Indulgence in speed and skill. For 4 years Rally fans can claim they saw the best drivers and the best cars in the world racing at their absolute maximum.



Midghall, Adam. “The Death Of Group B.” Car Throttle. 2016. Accessed March 05, 2018.

Oagana, Alex. “Group B Rally Cars: The Killer Bs.” Autoevolution. November 22, 2010. Accessed March 05, 2018.


The Steroid Era: Steroids Make for Entertaining Baseball

Written by: Trevor Carnell

 Image result for mark mcgwire

The steroid era. As it is simple known. This was a time in the MLB in which suspected steroid use was increased and record setting performances were given. This era is hard to express with specific years, however most people agree that steroids began making its way into the Major leagues in the 1980s. What made people start having second thoughts as to whether athletes were natural or not? After all, steroids were banned from the MLB in 1991. In the decades prior to the 1990s, only a handful of players in the history of baseball had recorded a season in which they hit more than 50 homerun balls. 10 players to be exact hit 50 or more homeruns in the season prior to 1990. After that year, a tremendous jump in the players that were able to reach the feat was made. 

During the 1990s, baseball was at an all-time high as a spectacle to watch. Imagine year after year watching big time homerun hitters going for the all-time homerun record that had been held for over 30 years when Roger Maris hit 61 homers in 1961 for the New York Yankees. In 1997 Mark McGwire rang out 58 homers in one season while playing for the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals. This turned heads around the world, as 50 homeruns in a season had been achieved only 7 times from the time Roger Maris broke the record until McGwire’s 58 homerun season. I think it is also important to note that in the same season, Ken Griffey Jr. hit 56 homers with the Seattle Mariners. This is especially impressive because as we now know, Griffey was not involved in the steroid scandal that would eventually surface. So now the stage is set for 1998 for the homerun record to be broken. 

Then on September 8, 1998 as McGwire’s St. Louis Cardinals took on their greatest rivals with Sammy Sosa’s Chicago Cubs, thousands of people in attendance and millions of people around the world watched as the record could be broke. The previous night, McGwire hit the homer to tie Roger Maris’ record, so naturally the environment was ecstatic. In the fourth inning, McGwire returned to the plate for his second at-bat of the night. As the crowd rose to their feet the first pitch was thrown and Mark McGwire blasted it low and over the left field wall. The crowd was ecstatic and so were the players. As McGwire rounded the bases, opposing players congratulated him. Had this event not been exciting enough as it was, the whole season had been a constant battle between McGwire and Sosa, as they were both on pace to break the record. Sosa did in fact hit 66 homeruns that season, more than Roger Maris’ 61 homer record, however fell short of the new record of Mark McGwire’s 70 homers.   

The years following this season until 2002 was filled with many more homeruns as 50 homers by one person in a season was accomplished 11 times in the short 4 years. In 2001, mark McGwire’s unbelievable record was beat by Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants at 73 homeruns. Baseball was in its glory days. Anytime you watched a game, you had the potential of watching history unfold. However in the following years a federal investigation into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative or (BALCO), which was a company that provided supplements to many well-known baseball players. The investigation was able to show that the use of steroids was evident for many players including the beloved heroes of the game, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds. All of which fought to keep this hidden which is apparently common according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse Research: Monograph Series, Anabolic Steroid Abuse. They stated, “Some experienced steroid users place much of the responsibility for the current problem [steroid abuse] on pharmaceutical companies, and suggest that the nature and scope of health consequences are likely to increase in the future.” Regardless of who the blame was placed one, these three among others were all confirmed to have been using steroids.  

It is unfortunate that these players used performance enhancing drugs, as their image and reputation will now always be stained by that fact. And while the American people do not agree with the use of steroids, there is no question that it made for some of the most memorable moments in baseball history.

March Madness: The Creation of the Phrase and the 1966 Title Game that Changed Everything by Madison Rice

In the United States, all college basketball fans can look forward to the end of February and the beginning of March Madness. Since the late 1930’s the phrase “March madness” has been used to describe the chaos ensuing each round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I nationwide basketball tournament. The first mention of “March madness” was from the executive secretary of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), Henry V. Porter; who in 1939 wrote, “A little March madness may complement and contribute to sanity and help keep society on an even keel.” The phrase was given a modern day revival when CBS television commentator, Brent Musburger used the phrase in 1982, allowing it to gain momentum within present day fans. Now days, the phrases “march madness” and the NCAA tournament are synonymous. Over the years this tournament has created many intense loyalties among cities and states. The nationwide tournament has grown from originally allowing 8 teams to enter the bracket to allowing for 68 teams to compete in the tournament each season. This tournament has led to many iconic moments in American sports history. It is very important to college basketball fans, as every state in the continental U.S.  has at least one team with a chance to make it to march madness. One particularly important year was in 1966, when Texas-Western won the title against the No. 1 seed, Kentucky, with an all African-American starting five. This win was crucial for the development of the game as a whole, and led to a more inclusive culture of Division I basketball.

Here in Kentucky, the University of Kentucky has had a long-standing tradition of success, although this years’ team has not been living up to their reputation. Kentucky basketball fans have an extremely intense culture. I have noticed that the Kentucky fans at Centre College have quieted down considerably compared to last year when U.K. was SEC Champions and the Cats went 32-6 overall. Looking at the 1966 season, Kentucky’s men were beaten in by Texas Western in a racially charged game that came only two years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This was the first time that the five starters in the game had ever been African American. “In the years immediately after Texas Western’s title, the integration of college sports took a great leap forward. Between 1966 and 1985, the average number of blacks on college teams jumped from 2.9 to 5.7.” (Fitzpatrick) That was an extremely important leap for NCAA Division I basketball,and it set the standard for including African Americans in competition. This event helped show the country that basketball was a game that can be played by everyone. This game was the only NCAA title game that Coach Rupp (of Kentucky) lost. It is noted by friends that Coach Rupp still was upset by the loss as he was on his death bed. It was especially significant that Kentucky lost this game because Coach Rupp was famously slow to accept integration and it was not until 1970 that he dressed a black player on one of his teams. It was said by his friends that Rupp always blamed this particular loss anything besides the fact that the players from Texas Western were just better than his.

Tomorrow is the start of 2018’s March Madness and it is one much different than those in Evansville in 1958 orin Maryland in 1966. Today’s college basketball culture is one of inclusion. I know myself, as well as many other fans in the United States, will be looking forward to whatever excitement may come this March. Overall, it was the NCAA Division Championship of 1966 that kicked off a new attitude for teams in terms of recruiting and playing African American players. This game will forever stand as a moment in United States basketball history.

(658 Words)

Domenico, Daniel D. “Mark Madness: How Brent Musburger and the Miracle Bra May Have Led to a More Equitable and Efficient Understanding of the Reverse Confusion Doctrine in Trademark Law.” Virginia Law Review86, no. 3 (2000): 597. doi:10.2307/1073963.

ESPN. Accessed February 28, 2018.

Engelhardt, Gordon. “‘March Madness’ had roots in Indiana before Illinois or the NCAA began using the phrase.” Evansville Courier & Press. February 24, 2018. Accessed February 28, 2018.

Ihsa. Search Results. Accessed February 28, 2018.


World War II and the Rise of Integrating Sports

After the second World War sport in the United States greatly changed. A large part of this was due to the fact that the attitudes towards black people had significantly flipped during this time. Before World War II, the segregation that was being observed throughout the country was no different than the segregation in sports. There were teams that had all black members and they would play against teams that had all white members. As the black teams began to dominate the sports, white athletes pushed to ban these interracial games because they were scared they were going to lose the white superiority that they had had for so many years. Fear of losing to a group of African American athletes swept white teams. The white athletes made up numerous myths and phrases of hate, including slurs about low intelligence and criminal tendencies, in an effort to cover their fear.

The segregation in sports is seen to be caused by two factors: during this time whites did not want to be associated with black people and white people viewed black people as inferior (Shropshire, p.34). These views were common to most white people in the United States at this time and there was no difference in their thoughts about integrating sports. Because of the tensions caused by the World War, whites saw anyone who was not white as inferior to them and therefore wanted nothing to do with any race other than white. This was not only in race relations abroad but also domestically. This played a huge role in the racial tensions present in the United States during World War 2.

Even though black athletes were not able to participate in professional sports, they were allowed to compete in the Olympics. Jesse Owens, for example, was a runner in the 1936 Olympics proved that the myths told about black athletes were being fabricated and were inherently false. Jesse Owens got the gold medal in every event he ran including the long jump, 100 meter, 200 meter, and 4×100 meter relay. Although Jesse Owens brought home gold for the United States and proved that blacks could compete with whites the attitudes towards blacks did not change—they were still seen as inferior and less than any other white.

Because of the lack of inclusivity and the want of black athletes to play sports, the African American athletes created their own professional league called the Negro National League—a baseball league for only African Americans (Laliberte, p.340).  This is just an example of one of the many segregated leagues the African Americans created to give themselves an opportunity to play the sports the loved. The negro leagues, however, only further separated the races and it was not long after they were established that forces started tearing the races further apart and a need for change was in demand.

Shortly after World War II, Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers 1947. Although many people give credit to Robinson for breaking the color barrier, it should be noted that he only broke the barrier in baseball. Two years earlier, the Los Angeles Rams broke this barrier in the National Football League. The Rams had two black athletes, Kenny Washington and Woody Strode, sign with them two years before Robinson signed with the Dodgers. Jackie Robinson’s signing is more publicized now because baseball is America’s game. The African Americans who had the courage to break the streak of segregation in sports, and in everyday life, were the ones who should hold the honor of creating a watershed moment in America’s race history.

When sports began to integrate, other aspects of everyday life also began to integrate. From experience, when I am on the field all my teammates play for one common goal—leading our team to victory. If I have disagreements or different views than a teammate, we put those differences aside when it is time to play ball. While only basing on assumptions and my own experience, I would imagine that part of the reason blacks and whites started to integrated and tolerate one another, coming from a period where there was no toleration, was because they were bonded on a team by one common goal. They worked together, whether they liked it or not to help their team win. While I will not credit sports to be the entirety of the reason blacks and whites integrated and the start of blacks gaining equal rights and privileges, I would argue that bringing the races together in organized sport after the World War II played some role, if only on the surface level, in that process.

Suggested Readings:

Kenneth L. Shropshire, In Black and White: Race and Sports in America

David J. Laliberte, Foul Lines: Teaching Race in Jim Crow America through Baseball History


Religious Pride or Humility in American Football

Tim Tebow broke Southeastern Conference (SEC) football records held by the greatest players in the greatest conference. Names like Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson, who live among football royalty. Tebow won SEC and national championships with the Florida Gators, along with garnering accolades for himself in the form of the Heisman Trophy. However, the loud clapping, the ‘Gator Bait’ chants performed at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, and the thousands of fans rising to cheer on the Gators become irrelevant simply by mentioning religion or Christianity when discussing Tim Tebow.


As seen in the Super Bowl ad featuring his mother and the story of Tim’s near abortion, Tebow was deeply molded by religion and based his identity in his faith. For a nation whose Pledge of Allegiance uses religious rhetoric, why is it so bad that Tebow kneels to give thanks via prayer or writes biblical scriptures on his eye black which is seen on national television? When and why did religion become a bad thing for athletes to promote?


One possible answer to explain this phenomenon is the shift in religious culture in the United States, particularly from the 1960s to present day. In their book Sports and Christianity: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, Nick Watson and Andrew Parker analyze the role of religion in sport. The combination of religion and sport “force us to confront and then eventually embrace and reconcile opposites. They give us an experiential vantage point from which to see that opposites are, well, not really opposites.” (Watson and Parker, 283). Contextually, this provides a framework for analyzing the role of religion in football.


Beginning his Dallas Cowboys coaching career in the 1960s, coach Tom Landry became a focal point of the NFL due to his calm demeanor, but also for his religious stances when questioned by the media. Prior to 1958, Tom Landry was so focused on football that he claimed to “confuse it with life itself.” (People, 1977). However, after some convincing from a friend in 1958, he realized that there was a life beyond football. Landry criticized other coaches about football being their “life and death” whereas he found contentment even in times of defeat because he saw the bigger picture.


Next in the saga is coach Bill McCartney, of Colorado University. A coach known for having recruited players who had criminal records and made mistakes while in college, McCartney’s transition and departure from college football was viewed in a very religious light. His retirement was based on wanting more time with his family and his role as a preacher that he felt football was taking time away from. In his final press conference before stepping away from the game, McCartney said, “Has Bill McCartney done everything right? No, just a sinner saved by grace?” (Vault 1995).


Given the anecdotes of Tim Tebow and the two coaches, I posit that the religious culture greatly shifted from the times of Tom Landry to Tim Tebow, with McCartney being caught in the transition period. Tom Landry was very open in his faith after the events of 1958, yet he was never criticized in the media for it. Social media and the technological world of today may have influenced the frequency with which we see player’s and coach’s actions, but media coverage of NFL coaches was still prevalent enough to claim that Landry’s beliefs were widely known. Also, it is worthy to note that the distinction between coach and player in terms of impact and focus in the media and by fans could be a possible explanation, but given the brevity of Tebow’s career this is unlikely.


The implications of Tim Tebow’s actions can be seen in the jokes made about his kneeling celebration after touchdowns, or the college football rule change regarding the disallowance of words to be written on eyeblack or tape in college football games. Watson and Parker sought to focus on the goal of sport as a “pedagogy for a healthy version of pride~humility or not.” (Watson and Parker, 283). Their conclusion was that it was not a healthy version of this dichotomy. Contextually, the religious climate in the United States has greatly shifted since the times of Tom Landry from a point of pride in religious beliefs to a setting where humility is required in the expression of ideas. The polarity that religious expression creates in our country seems not to cooperate with sporting culture and their fans in ways that it used to. There is more research to be done and further developments in this argument, but through the stories of the two coaches and the highly polarizing player that Tim Tebow was, we can see that religious culture and its relation to sport has not maintained a static dynamic through time.


Question for a broader setting: Why did the idea of ‘Muscular Christianity’ not retain its popularity and what role do coaches have in its alleged decline?

Suggested Reading

Nick Watson and Andrew Parker, Sports and Christianity: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives.

Richard Hoffer, “Putting His House in Order”, Vault Magazine.

Kent Demaret, “Tom Landry is a Believer: in Himself, His Printouts, His Cowboys, and His Lord. People Magazine.