Tomorrow will mark two-hundred thirty-six years of American independence. Two-hundred thirty-six years since Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence and John Hancock signed his — well, “John Hancock.” The past centuries have provided many definitive moments, and sports history is no exception. Today, THE SPORTS DISPENCER has scoured the records to compile five of sports history’s most patriotic moments.
5. Reaction to the Death of Osama Bin Laden
On May 1, 2011, a covert operation captured and killed Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden in his Pakistani compound. Courtesy of social media, news spread rapidly before an official announcement was made, eventually reaching the fans of Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. There, a nationally broadcast matchup between the Mets and Phillies was briefly interrupted in the top of the ninth when jubilant spectators erupted into chanting U-S-A. Although in the midst of a tightly contested NL East matchup, rival fans put their team allegiances aside and reveled in a marquee American moment.
4. “Dream Team”
At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, the U.S. men’s basketball team — composed of college stars — stumbled to an unacceptable third place finish. Four years later, FIBA turned to the NBA to supply a lineup capable of returning American basketball to atop the podium. By enlisting the game’s best and brightest stars, the world could not compete, losing by an average of 43.8 points. From Bird to Magic to Barkley to Jordan, the U.S.’s elite squad dazzled audiences, seized the gold, and brought glory to the “Stars and Stripes.”
3. Super Bowl XXXVI Halftime Show
As the United States continued to recover, Super Bowl XXXVI served as a platform to pay tribute to victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. After U2 treated the sold out Superdome crowd to an upbeat rendition of “Beautiful Day”, the scene changed. Behind the band, two backdrops began to scroll, featuring the names of all the victims killed in the attacks. When U2 concluded the emotional performance, Bono tore open his jacket to reveal an American flag. The halftime show garnered rave reviews and in 2009 was named by SI.com as the greatest in history.
2. Rick Monday Saves the Flag
A two-time All-Star, ex-Cubs center fielder Rick Monday is perhaps best known for stopping two protesters from burning an American flag in a play dubbed “the greatest in baseball history.” In regards to the incident, Monday, a former marine, later remarked, “If you’re going to burn the flag, don’t do it around me. I’ve been to too many veterans’ hospitals and seen too many broken bodies of guys who tried to protect it.”
1. Miracle on Ice
Entering the 1980 Winter Olympics, the Soviet Union was the odds-on favorite to top the podium, winning every ice hockey gold since 1964. Since the United States’ victory in 1960, the Soviets defeated America in every subsequent matchup with a cumulative score of 28-7. In the heart of the Cold War, the Americans and Soviets were natural rivals, but the United States never seemed to gain the upper hand. When the Olympics returned to Lake Placid, where the U.S. captured gold in 1960, momentum had finally shifted in America’s favor. In front of a raucous home crowd, Herb Brooks’ squad edged the Soviets 4-3 en route to Olympic gold.
What do you think? Anything we missed? Comment below and let the discussion begin.