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A different take on "Miracle"


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#1 KitKatTGM

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 09:06 PM

A Fair-at-All-Costs Coach? That Would Be a Miracle
T.J. Simers

February 10, 2004

It's a hockey movie, which ordinarily would make it the worst kind, but knowing ahead of time it didn't end in a tie suggested "Miracle" was going to deliver a satisfying payoff.

In fact, the Disney account of the U.S. hockey team's gold-medal victory in the 1980 Olympics was not only uplifting, as you might expect, but entertaining and loaded with the kind of first-rate hockey action you'd expect to see if you ever ran out of things to do in life and had nowhere left to go but a hockey game.

Kurt Russell is terrific as the late Herb Brooks, the coach who emerges as the movie's hero, justifying all the mental and physical abuse he employs to push his players to victory.

Just the kind of inspiring American sports story we all love.


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WE DO love success in sports, no matter how it's achieved, and the 1980 victory over Russia just might be the greatest sports triumph of most of our lifetimes.

By most accounts, Brooks was a wonderful, driven man, eventually loved by the players he set out to make hate him, who sacrificed family time to achieve his goal and get the best out of 20 young hockey players.

But if "Miracle" is to be believed, it is also paying homage to the worst kind of controlling coach, the kind who flourishes everywhere today in youth, high school and collegiate athletics with impunity so long as success is achieved.


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IF "MIRACLE" is to be believed, Brooks paid no attention to a week of hockey tryouts, selecting his own team and in many cases ignoring better players because they might not have fit into the team context. Fair is fair if the coach says it's fair.

Of course that's how many (recreation, high school, college) coaches, who operate as control freaks or ogres behind closed doors, justify what they do. It's all done in the guise of the pure quest for teamwork. Bob Knight comes to mind.

Teamwork, as dictated by a coach, was the thrust of another wonderful and successful sports movie, "Hoosiers," in which Gene Hackman insisted on four passes before anyone could shoot. It's a movie that would never have been made if Jimmy Chitwood hadn't come along.


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IF "MIRACLE" is to be believed, Brooks worked his players up and down the ice long after they'd played a game with Norway early in their training. If it hadn't come along until years later, I would have guessed he was stealing a Bear Bryant tactic from "The Junction Boys."

The team's doctor and assistant coach challenge Brooks in the movie while he skates his team until it drops. He ignores them, and I guess it's a good thing none of his players ended up in the hospital, or that might have resulted in a different kind of movie.

It's a pivotal scene in "Miracle" the coach abusing his players until a gasping Mike Eruzione finally gives Brooks the answer he wants, which once again justifies what has taken place. Remember the Titans.


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IF "MIRACLE" is to be believed, Brooks brought in a hotshot hockey player after everyone else had been put through the wringer and let it be known the hotshot was there to potentially take someone's spot. It's mental torture designed to bring everyone closer together and, of course, it works.

If "Miracle" is to be believed, Brooks tore into an injured player between periods of the United States' opening Olympic game with Sweden and challenged his manhood. Not exactly Craig T. Nelson and Tom Cruise in "All the Right Moves," but close.

In the film, the team doctor has advised Brooks that the player can do no more harm to his injury, so Brooks embarrasses the player in front of everyone, prompting him to charge Brooks and fire up the team.

The scene ends with Brooks and an assistant coach laughing privately because the players have fallen for his contrived outburst. The U.S. comes back to tie Sweden supporting the contention that Brooks was the master motivator.

The U.S comes back in every Olympic game, like Seabiscuit, prevailing because it has the heart of champion, ridden hard by coach, and jockey.


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IF "MIRACLE" is to be believed, and I'm sure it will be, it will once again empower the recreation, high school and college coaches who believe they've been assigned the task of winning, no matter how achieved.

I'm not sure there are too many people more powerful today than youth and high school coaches. Parents interested in their child's academic standing are considered attentive parents. Parents interested in their child's athletic standing are considered meddlesome and undoubtedly living vicariously through the child.

If a youngster quits because the coach's motivational means cannot be tolerated or abided, the youngster is considered a quitter or not tough enough to withstand the mental and physical rigors of what it takes to be successful.

There aren't many movies with happy endings under such circumstances, leaving an untold number of scarring disappointments at the youth, high school and collegiate levels. Good movies aside, there just aren't as many miracles as some would like to believe.
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#2 LizDevil30

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 09:09 PM

It's a hockey movie, which ordinarily would make it the worst kind

I stopped reading after that line. :angry:
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"Why is a puck called a puck? Because dirty little bastard was taken."-New Jersey Devils Goaltender Martin Brodeur, of whom I am happy co-keeper with poohbear.
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#3 sundstrom

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 09:15 PM

this writer is one of those guys that was picked last for kick-ball. on that level, the point isn't to have fun. it's to win.

jackass.
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#4 NJDevs4978

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 09:20 PM

Yes, it's way too cynical. For every Knight that goes too far there's a Parcells who doesn't and wins.

The irony is Brooks was not the bad cop by nature (at least he wasn't when he dealt with professionals later on), but he knew with college kids he had to put his foot down more, especially when he was dealing with kids from different parts of the country and various rivalries (Boston-Minnesota).
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#5 LizDevil30

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 09:40 PM

this writer is one of those guys that was picked last for kick-ball. on that level, the point isn't to have fun. it's to win.

jackass.

Knew that after the first line. :lol:
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"Why is a puck called a puck? Because dirty little bastard was taken."-New Jersey Devils Goaltender Martin Brodeur, of whom I am happy co-keeper with poohbear.
His lean, limber muscles tensed under the skin are ready to contort his body into unnatural goal stopping positions. Tara Sullivan, Bergen Record.
A person's a person, no matter how small. Horton the Elephant, "Horton Hears a Who"
NEW JERSEY home of the Devils, Giants, Jets, Red Bull, Nets and the Statue of Liberty--standing on our front porch waving to the neighbors.

#6 exit_16w

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 12:09 AM

You should have known that it was a $hitty article in the thread title. The writer is from LA nuff said. Hes just a hollywood beat writer who knows jack about sports. I hate people like this guy who have to make a stance just to be different and want attention and the same hate goes for hollywood too.
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#7 SueNJ97

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 11:10 AM

I've heard Brooks admit that he was deliberately cruel to unite the players against him. Anything to unite them. Does that make him a bad human being? No. Those players, while young men, were not children. I wouldn't advise trying it with children. And if you have a coach who did try it with kids I wouldn't want that person coaching kids.

But you notice that none of his players really had a bad word to say about him afterwards...unlike the Soviet players who said plenty about Tikhanov once they were allowed to say it.
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#8 Nieuwy25

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 12:29 PM

. . . but entertaining and loaded with the kind of first-rate hockey action you'd expect to see if you ever ran out of things to do in life and had nowhere left to go but a hockey game.


The perfect person to write about hockey. :blink:

He's way off base on the coaching. Comparing Brooks' style to an extremist like Knight. Comparing Brooks, who's coaching college-age guys, to someone coaching young kids. Saying that using psychological & physical tactics to make a team out of individuals is "controlling" or somehow damaging, is just silly.
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#9 KitKatTGM

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 08:51 PM

The perfect person to write about hockey.


T.J. Simers is the most hockey-phobic writer on the Times, and I normally don't like him, but I still think he made an important point this time.

And I don't really dislike Brooks, though I wish he'd chosen Derian Hatcher to be on the 2002 Olympic Team.
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#10 AddictedToHockey

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Posted 12 February 2004 - 07:55 PM

I finally figured out what T.J. stands for in his name... Total Jacka--.

Don't read anything Simers says -- I cancelled my subscription because of him, and I view the L.A. Times as two steps below the National Enquirer for allowing him to write there.

Read the New York Post if you want to read a real newspaper... yes, even they are more reilable than the Times, in my opinion!
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#11 Joe Mac

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Posted 12 February 2004 - 11:38 PM

It reminds me of the movie *61 when one of the sportswriters asked the other if he ever played baseball. And the little weasel said no.

I never played organized hockey before, so I can't comment on what these guys go through playing. (I have played baseball, football and basketball). I can love the game and understand it, but I was 10 years old when this thing happened and wasn't out in Minny for practice.

Point being. I think old TJ falls into the same category.
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