Sports Exchange

The Sports Exchange - weekdays from 4-5pm

Miracle on Ice Part 2?

Not sure that the greatest sports moment in this countries history could ever be duplicated, but there are many similarities between the game last Saturday and the game in 1980.  Here are some similarities and differences:

The state of the country: In 1980, Iranian revolutionaries were holding 52 Americans hostage at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. The nation was still reeling from the Vietnam War, Watergate, an economic recession and a scarcity of gasoline leading to the infamous gas rationing. In a televised speech, President Jimmy Carter declared that America was experiencing a "crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will."  Right now we are still fighting a lingering war in the middle east that the public doesn't seem to care about anymore, the economy is in the toilet, our national leaders can't be trusted, and it has been far too long since Americans as a whole have had anything to really be proud of.  Advantage: Tie

Rosters: No it is not the same as a Soviet team that can beat NHL all stars (pretty much because it is made up of NHL all stars), but there are some of the best players in the world on their roster, including in goal just like in 1980.  The makeup of the US roster is nothing like it was in 1980, and this fact alone is maybe what makes the 1980 game one that can never be duplicated. Advantage: 1980

Odds:  In the 1980 game the Soviet Union was +1750 favorites (for you non-gamblers that means that if you bet 100 dollars, you would win 1750), the game on Saturday Russia was +130 favorites (meaning if you bet 100, you would win only 130).  Advantage: 1980

The Game:  The actual games both lived up to the hype and they boath ended up with a 1 goal difference, but the difference is that the game on Saturday went into overtime, and not just an overtime but an extremely dramatic overtime that will be talked about for years to come.  Advantage: 2014

The controversy:  Both of these games had a moment of controversy, not nearly as much in 1980 though as this past Saturday.  The game in 1980 had a goal scored with 1 second to go that had to be reviewed, while the game on Saturday had a goal disallowed because the net had moved.  The goal was put on the board and then eventually taken off.  Advantage: 2014

The Conspiracy: There has been a conspiracy that the USSR "took a dive" in 1980 when they pulled the best goalie in the world and allowed the USA to win.  Since the game on Saturday the ref has been accused of fixing the game by not only the president, but also people have been protesting at the US embassy.  Advantage: 2014

The Hero:  I hate using the term hero in sports because I believe the same as TJ Oshie that the real heroes wear camo, but the term is somewhat fitting when you represent your country in my opinion.  In 1980 it was a kid that barely made the cut, and most people had never heard of.  He ended up scoring the game winning goal against the Soviet Union.  On Saturday TJ Oshie, a kid that barely made the cut, basically put the country on his back and scored 1 shootout goal after another keeping the game alive, until he finally scored the game winner after an extended shootout period.  Advantage: 2014

The End:  The 1980 game ended with Jim Craig turning back 1 shot after another, standing tall in the goal crushing the spirit of the soviets, the call of "Do you believe in miracles" still goes down as the best call in sports history.  The 2014 game ended with a kid that a lot of people didn't even think should have been on the team finally winning the game as mentioned above.  Advantage: Tie

 

After the 1980 game the Soviet Union eventually fell apart and our country rebounded and found much better times.  At this moment the impact of this game on Saturday and what it did for this country doesn't even look close to what the game in 1980 did, but then again there is still a few games left in this Olympics.  We are far from favorites to win the gold, but on Saturday there were 6.4 million people that watched a kid refuse to lose time after time at about 6:30 in the morning.  This hockey team might not give people the hope or reason to believe like the 1980 team did, but on Saturday morning for a short time, all that mattered was that the United States beat Russia, and when it happened, it felt good, isn't that the purpose of sports anyways?

Going back to Ohio

Shortly after I started working in radio running the board for Brewers games, I decided that I wanted to try coaching football.  Football was always a passion of mine and while I was going to college, that was always one of my goals to coach a football team.  I felt like things were in a rut so I was looking online at a website and I answered an ad looking for an assistant high school football coach in a town just outside of Columbus, Ohio.  I had been to Columbus many times before as a child and I loved it, I thought it would be perfect.  I sat around and finally got the call I was waiting for.  The head coach of the team wanted me to drive down to Ohio and interview for the job.  I knew I had to do it.

I remember packing a few things in my car and driving to Ohio, I got to the town where The coach, "Buzz" Kirkhart, lived late that night.  I figured I would stay the night and meet him the next day.  He had other plans though, he said come on over to my place and we will talk.  I remember getting to his house and a million thoughts went through my head thinking, "Is this really happening, am I really doing this right now".  I got to his house and he invited me in, I sat on his couch and his wife brought me a glass of cold lemonade.  "Buzz" was a short older guy that was balding, and had a really rough, grumbling voice with his southern accent.  (southern to me anyways). 

We talked awhile and he threw me right in the mix, he set me up with the principal to talk about being the In-School Suspension supervisor, and he had me meet the team that morning.  You could tell the respect that the kids had for this man, I knew a little bit about his history but not a lot.  Some coaches are driven by going to a tradition rich school where football is king, and to keep that program at the top winning championship after championship.  Buzz was exactly opposite of that, he would go to a school that barely even had a football team, and he would take the program over building them from next to nothing into a constant playoff team.  The team that I was honored to help coach was already on the rise, they were on the brink of being that playoff team.

Buzz, would probably be looked at as an X and O type of coach to those looking in, but to those that sat in a team meeting, or made it through a practice knew that he was a motivator.  He seemed grumpy, and extremely hard to please on the outside, but those that knew him and saw that smile knew the real man.  I have always respected the "old school" way when it comes to football, I have seen many teams win using "outdated" techniques, and Buzz was for sure old school.  There was a team pastor who led the team in prayer before and after every game, at a public school.......yeah, I know, I will give you a minute to process that........ I had played high school football for legends, and it didn't take me long to realize that I was coaching football for a legend when I was in Ohio.

I haven't been to Ohio since my oldest son who is now 9 was a baby, I got news the other day that "coach" isn't doing well and I have a feeling that a trip back to Ohio is going to be in my near future.  He is now I am sure in his 80's, I have been reading old articles about him online a lot lately and I am amazed at the number of young men that he has inspired.  He always expected more from a kid that they seemed willing to give, but he always knew the right buttons to push to make that kid a better player and person than they even knew they could be.  He had so many stories and did so much educating through football that it is hard to pick just one, but the thing that I will never forget him telling the team was, "This isn't the greatest thing we will ever do with our lives, but it is the greatest thing we will ever do together". In the end, it wasn't just the "kids" that he was inspiring, it was everyone around him.

War on Sports

There has been a lot of coverage lately on the Sochi Olympics.  As of yesterday we announced that we will be putting warships on standby in case our people need to be evacuated in a hurry. 

Throughout the history of the Olympics tensions between different countries has been high. It usually leads to nothing more than a country boycotting the games and withdrawing its athletes from competition. On the other hand, some of the most memorable moments in the history of the Olympics has been when an athlete from an inferior country proves the world wrong by winning a gold medal.

Some of the most popular moments were in 1936 when Adolf Hitler was using the Olympics to prove the "master race" was the best. The problem with that was a man named Jesse Owens, and four gold medals later, Hitler was eating crow. 

In 1948, after World War II, Germany and Japan were not invited to participate because of their roles in the war.  The USSR was invited, but boycot the Olympics for 40 years.  

Cold War tensions started showing up in 1952, as the USSR made its first Olympics in those 40 years.  In 1956, the USSR and Hungary were playing a semifinal game in water polo when a fight broke out and the game had to be called. 

In 1972, the games were supposed to represent peace, but instead it left 19 athletes dead during the Munich Massacre.  In Moscow in 1980, over 60 nations boycotted the Olympics in protest of the USSR occupying Afghanistan.

Maybe one of the greatest Olympic performances from this country was the 1980 winter Olympics when the US hockey team filled with college kids played the Russians. At the time, we were down on ourselves and questioning where we really stood in the world - the USSR was looked at as powerhouse, not just in the Olympics but politically, as well. 

That win, known as Miracle, by that group of kids was arguably the most important win of a sporting event by any team in the history of this country.  It renewed faith in ourselves, and it showed the rest of the world that we might look like we are down but, when push comes to shove, we will always be there.

This year's edition of the Olympics is different than years before.  Political tensions are very high between several countries, though nobody seems to be boycotting these games in protest. Russia is looking to show the world how far it has come in rebuilding their powerful country, and we are still involved in the longest war in this country's history. 

This year's Olympics are seriously lacking big names and, here we are, just 17 days away from the opening ceremony.  I don't know if there is anything that can be proven from this year's Olympic games or anything to gain politically from them but, in just over two weeks, let's hope the only thing there is to worry about is winning that gold medal and not getting our people evacuated on warships as soon as possible.

LeBroning

Gary Payton the other day was talking about how horrible the NBA is partly because of how they treat their stars.  Check out his full interview here.

 I have to say he has a point, check out what the kids are doing to honor the NBA's biggest star and biggest flopper.  They call it "LeBroning".

The State of Basketball????

There has been a little "underground" talk lately about bringing an NHL team to Milwaukee and to me as a hockey fan it would make perfect sense.  I can't really see a good reason that an NHL team wouldn't be a great idea for Wisconsin.  If you look where Milwaukee is located there would be several geographical rivalries already set in place. Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit, and St. Louis to name a few of them.  I understand that the NHL is the least popular of the 4 major pro sports but attendance to an NHL game is very comparable to the attendance of an NBA game.

If you look at the recent history of the Milwaukee Bucks it is a rotating door when it comes to players.  As soon as the Bucks draft a good player they can't wait to get out of there and the Bucks get little to nothing in return, when a player says he will play "anywhere" he means anywhere but Milwaukee.  Just recently Herb Kohl has been talking about looking for local investors to keep the Bucks in Milwaukee.  I don't know if something will change and it will be reasonable for the Bucks to stay in Milwaukee or not, I know when they are winning people love them.  The problem is it is hard to win when nobody wants to play for you.  OJ Mayo is their current "superstar" and while he is pretty good and his supporting staff isn't horrible they are far from being a contender, and when it comes to attendance there are only 3 teams in the NBA that average a lower number.

The NHL obviously has never happened in Milwaukee but if you go by the teams that would neighbor them you would see nothing but success.  The Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings are contenders every season, the St. Louis Blues are usually a competitive franchise, and the only team that got more free agent superstars than the Minnesota Wild a couple years ago was the Miami Heat.  The difference between the NBA and the NHL is that while the Timberwolves and the Bucks can't keep a superstar around, teams like the Wild, Red Wings, and Blackhawks have players wanting to play for them.  But then again who wouldn't want to play in "hockeytown", or "The State of Hockey" if you are a hockey player.

 There is no way to tell if an NHL franchise in Milwaukee would be more successful than the Bucks, but why not hockey and basketball?  There are many other cities that have both, if Herb Kohl is looking for investors, maybe instead of NBA investors he should be looking at NHL investors?

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  • December 2014
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UPCOMING GAMES
 
Logan boys at Onalaska
Friday, December 19, 2014 7:20pm
 
Bucks at Clippers
Saturday, December 20, 2014 9:30pm
 
Packers at Tampa Bay
Sunday, December 21, 2014 10am
 
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, December 21, 2014 6:30pm
 
Denver at Cincinnati
Monday, December 22, 2014 6:45pm
 
Menomonie boys at Logan
Tuesday, December 23, 2014 7:20pm