Sports of the 1980s
Jim Stork
American History
May 19, 2011

Miracle On Ice

Arguably the greatest upset in sports history, the Miracle on Ice has become a symbol of U.S. triumph over its strongest enemies. Taking place during a period of high tension in the Cold War, the event shocked the world. The U.S. Olympic hockey team, made up of 20 amateur players, defeated the Soviet Union, the strong favorite, in the semifinals going on to defeat Finland and win gold in the finals. Many people consider it to be the greatest U.S. achievement in sports.

The game took place on Friday, February 22 1980. The U.S. had pulled of a string of impressive wins over teams such as the 7-3 victory over Czechoslovakia, 5-1 over Norway, 7-2 over Romania, and 4-2 over West Germany to make it to the medal round. The Soviets, who had crushed the U.S. team in an exhibition game 10-3 earlier that month, blew past its first games defeating Poland, Netherlands, Canada, and Finland. The rematch had finally come and most people expected a easy win for the Soviets.

Early in the game the Soviets gained the lead with a goal. The U.S. was able to tie it up, but the U.S.S.R. quickly scored another to make it 2-1. The U.S. goalie, Jim Craig, improved his play and blocked the rest of the Soviet shots in the first period. Near the end of the period the Soviets started to relax and let their guard down enough for Mark Johnson to get by the defense and score off a rebound with one second left before the horn. The Soviet coach switched their goalie, a move that shocked everyone watching.
The second period was dominated by the Soviets, out shooting America 12-2. They were only able to score 1 goal, however, and the period ended with the Soviets leading 3-2.
The first half of the third period was very close. Midway through the Soviets received a penalty and the U.S. scored at the end of the power-play. Shortly after the U.S. scored again making the score 4-3. The Soviets, now in a panic, took shot after shot in an attempt to even the score before the end of the game. The Americans kept up and good defense, however, and even took some more shots. As the clock ran down the U.S. team cleared the puck again and the crowd started counting down. Al Michaels, the sportscaster for ABC, stated his famous quote, “Eleven seconds, you've got ten seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow, up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles?...YES!”

The game ended in the biggest upset sport ever played. The Soviets had taken a staggering 39 shots to the Americans 16. After the game the U.S. went on to take gold by defeating Finland and Soviets defeated Sweden to take silver. The story remains as the greatest example of determination and triumph in sports history.


Arthur Ashe

Arthur Ashe (Born July 14, 1949) was arguably the best African-American tennis player to play the game. His ability to play tennis had got him a tennis scholarship to UCLA. Where in 1965 he won the NCAA singles title and team championship. He set the path for African-American tennis players as he succeeded nearly every time he stepped on the court. Ashe rose to the number 1 spot in American in 1969, the same year he had gone pro. n 1969 Ashe had decided to take part his skin. He called for expulsion to help raise awareness to the still present racial profiling. This had sparked his passion for civil rights. By the mid 70s, Ashe realized that he had been spending too much time on civil rights rather than focusing on his tennis career. In 1975, after winning Wimbledon, he became the number 1 player internationally. Remains today the only African-American male to win a grand slam title including, Wimbledon or the Australian open. In 1979, he had a heart attack, starting a series of heart problem eventually leading to his retirement in 1980. Ashe was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985. He had heart surgery twice. With the conclusion of his brain surgery, he had learned he was HIV-positive. After learning this, he lived a normal life , out of the public eye, to raise his daughter . Although he had founded the Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS to fight and hopefully eliminate the disease. Died on Feb 6, 1996 from complications from AIDS. Ashe had been blessed with an illustrious career, including three grand slam singles titles along with over 800 victories. Unlike many, he used his status as an elite tennis player to speak out on quintessential social issues. Although Ashe’s legacy lasted throughout the 1970s, it is appropriate to label him as an icon in the 1980s, because he opened numerous opportunities for black athletes all across the world. He was the first to dominate in an all white sport, which grasped international attention as this had never been done before. Not only is he a hero to the game of tennis but to the African-American race. He inspired many that despite racial profiling, you can still achieve anything.


San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers are most known for their great dynasty in the 1980s and early 1990s. In which they won 4 championships and went 16 years winning 10 or more games. Notable players include Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Roger Craig, and Dwight Clark. In this period of success they were coached by the great Bill Walsh. Super bowls include 1981, 1984, 1988, and 1989. Joe Montana is considered the best quarterback to ever play the game just as Jerry Rice is considered the best wide receiver to ever play the game. Thus having these two on the same offense was just completely unfair. 1981 NFC championship game is well known for “The Catch” against the Dallas Cowboys with just over 4 minutes left to play. Set a series of records not only as a team but as individuals. Roger Craig became the first running back to rush and receive for 1,000 yards. Although they had faced difficulty losing in the first round of the playoffs three years in a row (1985-1987). 1988 was a slow year, but they made it to Super Bowl XXIII, considered one of the greatest of all time.The 49ers were down 3, with about 3 minutes left, and Montana drove across the field in 92 seconds to secure the victory. The following year was a great success as they went 14-2. Where the only losses combined to a loss deficit of only 5 points. In the postseason none of the games were remotely close, as they had crushed the Denver Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV. The 80s San Francisco 49ers is still today considered the greatest dynasty in NFL history. Among this decade was rewarded several pro-bowl selections and MVP honors to the members of this immaculate team.
After absolutely destroying the Miami Dolphins and MVP Dan Marino 38-16 in Super Bowl XIX, 11 members of the team collaborated to make the song, “We’re The 49ers”. Montana is known for being absent.

Celtics vs Lakers

During the 1980s, no rivalry was more famous then the one between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. These two teams dominated the NBA throughout the 1980s, meeting each other in the finals three times. Of these tree championships the Lakers won 2 and the Celtics won 1. The Lakers won a total of fife titles in the 1980s while the Celtics won three. The determination exhibited by both teams made their games some of the most exciting to watch during the time.
Both teams were led by star players. The Lakers had Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and James Worthy while the Celtics had Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parris. Each team drafted players specifically to counteract the players on the other team. The greatest aspect of the rivalry, however, was the competition between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. The two players represented more then just the rivalry between each other. They represented the rivalry between the Lakers and the Celtics, Hollywood flashiness and Boston blue collar grit, and between blacks and whites. There strong contrast greatly added to the rivalry between the two teams.
Throughout the NBA history no two teams have battled it out in the finals then the Lakers and Celtics. They have met in the finals twelve times in total with the Celtics wining nine to the Lakers 3. The rivalry really flurished in the 1980s, however, because the Lakers began to win during this time. Today the rivalry is still very strong with the Celtics beating the Lakers to win in 2008 and the Lakers wining in 2010. With talented players and the determination of both teams the rivalry is sure to go on for years to come.

Works Cited

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