Every now and then we need a boost. Something to remind us of the indomitable American spirit that has always moved us forward as a country. In 1980, it was a group of college kids who created a miracle on ice. At a time when our country was down, they inspired us. The economy was flagging, gas prices skyrocketing and there were American's held hostage in Iran. And while their victories didn't solve these problems, they did lift the nation's spirits when we desperately needed it.
You can't help but draw parallels with what is unfolding in South Africa. Thirty years later, a team that doesn't play one of America's most popular sports is making people stop, watch and pay attention. And like 1980, our country could use a boost. Today we are grappling with the largest environmental disaster in our history, unemployment is slow to improve, we are still at war in the Middle East and our politics in Washington seem completely broken. This team in South Africa has won the respect of the world and the attention of a nation not because of their superior skill, but because of their heart and the spirit that they play with. As Landon Donovan said spontaneously after the last game, "This team embodies what the American spirit is about."
They have already inspired emotional celebration rarely seen. If you haven't seen the reactions of fans to Landon Donovan's magic goal, you should take a look and try to remember the last time you saw people so full of pure joy. Everyone would do well by taking a couple of hours to gather around a TV and let this team know that when they step onto the field they will have not just 11 players but 12 -- them and us.
Like the Lake Placid team, this US soccer team has lifted our spirits at a time when we needed it. And for that we owe Coach Bradley and all the US players a well-deserved thank you.