We’ve all heard the story a million times, and if you are watching TV during the Olympics you are bound to see a few Visa or Coca Cola commercials telling the story again. The story of when the United States beat the Soviet Union in the 1980 winter Olympics at Lake Placid. Its by far one of the most inspirational sports stories in American history, and the story is retold in the 2004 movie “Miracle” which was shown at one of this semester’s themed events in November (side note: I had no idea who John Bacon was but everyone should look him up he’s honestly so cool). While watching the movie, I couldn’t help but think about how it related to when we learned about A. Bartlett Giamatti’s idea about spectators and sports.
Giamatti, in his piece “Take Time For Paradise,” talks about how athletes serve as surrogates to the spectators during the game, and that these spectators are taken out of their surroundings and brought to, if only for a few moments, paradise. This idea is very connected to the 1980 hockey game. While the United States watched this game, either from within the stadium or on their couches at home, we all united and collectively lived vicariously through the players. Americans collectively felt every goal that was scored, and it meant so much more to the spectators than just a hockey game, this was our way of defeating our cold war opponent, and bringing down a team that hadn’t been beat in years. When the game ends in the movie and the Americans beat the Soviet Union, and when you watch the real clips, the whole entire crowd erupts, because everyone watching, for just a few moments, was taken to paradise. These athletes did so much more than just win a hockey game, they united a nation with a win that was not only sentimental but symbolic as well; the US finally beat the Soviets.
The other event I attended was another movie showing, “A League of Their Own,” a comedy about the founding of a women’s baseball league during World War II to maintain interest in baseball while men were away at war, which I later learned actually happened. While watching the movie, and then researching the actual players and teams afterward, I was saddened to see the large emphasis on traditional gender roles and stereotypes for the women. It reminded me of when we learned about women in sports during lecture. Mika mentioned how there are certain stereotypes that apply to women such as being emotional, loving the color pink, wearing dresses, and that women are nurturing and should take care of the home. It just so happened that every one of these stereotypes appeared in the movie.
The women of the league in real life, and in the movie, all wore cute pink dresses as their baseball uniforms. Not very practical if you ask me. Additionally, in the movie they were often portrayed as very emotional, with their moods changing and of course, a few moments of crying. To top it all off, the main character Dottie, ended up leaving the league after the final game to take care of her family at home. Of course she did. Now I do understand that this league was in the 1940’s but its still sad to think about the gender typing these women actually had to go through (pink dresses to play baseball?!), and I was a bit annoyed to see more stereotypes being perpetuated in the movie.