Sports have given us so many memorable moments throughout history and none are as polarizing and delivers goosebumps quite like those enriched in rich American patriotism, helping unite our glorious country.
I know there’s a lot of people out there who frown upon American pride and patriotism but frankly, the rest of us don’t give a damn. Merica.
So, while you’re in your red, white and blue, scarfing down brats and sipping on a couple of brews to prep for fireworks this Independence Day, take a moment to look back on these wonderful moments when sports united Americans.
10. Philadelphia Phillies fans celebrate the news of Bin Laden’s death
While the Philadelphia Phillies were battling the Mets in a tight contest, the fans at Citizens Bank Park discovered the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death. The fans disregarded their fandom and in unison, started the glorious chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!.”
9. Muhammad Ali lights the flame at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta
The world’s most iconic boxer and 1960 Olympic boxing gold medalist lit the cauldron to start off the Olympic games. It was impossible to not get chills watching The Greatest represent us.
8. Kerri Strug brings home the Olympic gold
Despite a severely injured ankle, gymnast Kerri Strug showed heart. Like many, I have not watched any gymnastics since or before those 1996 games.
After Strug’s first attempt at the vault resulted in an injury, the U.S. team quest for the gold was called in question. But on her second attempt, she landed perfectly on one foot. The crowd went nuts as Strug guaranteed the gold for America.
7. Whitney Houston sings the national anthem before Super Bowl XXV
During Desert Storm in 1991, Super Bowl XXV was a welcomed distraction. The Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants were set to be on display that night but they took a distant backseat to the American pride that was beaming throughout the stadium. The fans were waving thousands of American flags as Whitney Houston proceeded to sing the best version of the National Anthem that has ever been heard by human ears.
6. The Dream Team
There is no other greater collection of talent in the history of sports than the 1992 Dream Team. Honestly, the group of basketball talent was like a collection of real-life superheroes. The Avengers? Psst. They got nothing on this squad.
Look at this roster: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullin, and Christian Laettner. That team consisted of 11 Hall of Famers. That is and will always be the greatest team of all time.
As expected, the Dream Team destroyed everyone by an average margin of 44 points on their way to the gold.
5. Pat Tillman walks the walk
The Arizona Cardinals’ Pat Tillman felt it was his American duty to enlist in the U.S. Army after the September 11 attacks. There is no one in sports who sacrificed more than Tillman. Which modern pro athlete could you imagine turning down a multi-million dollar contract to go fight for their country? Tillman exemplified true sacrifice. He was a true patriot.
4. Jesse Owens dominates the 1936 Olympics
Adolph Hitler used the Olympic games in Berlin to push his Nazi agenda but there was one man who stood strong and above the rest during those games — Jesse Owens. The track star would become the most successful athlete by winning four gold medals, and more importantly, crushing Hitler’s hopes.
3. George Bush throws a strike in the 2001 World Series in New York
Only seven weeks after the tragic attacks on the World Trade Center, President George W. Bush would throw out the first pitch of Game 3 of the World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Yankees. Fittingly the game was in New York.
Wearing a FDNY fleece, President Bush strolled out to the mound, all by himself in front of Yankees stadium with thunderous applause. President Bush wound up and threw a strike right down the middle and walked away like a boss, waving to the crowd as chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” rang loud throughout the stadium. The symbolism of the moment was incredible and was a major moment in our nation’s healing.
2. Rick Monday saves the American flag from two protestors
In 1976 during a game featuring the Cubs and Dodgers in Los Angeles, the Chicago Cubs’ Rick Monday proceed to make the greatest play in baseball history. It wouldn’t show up in the box score but it struck a chord in American hearts. Two protestors ran onto the field and attempted to light the American flag on fire until Monday came up behind the two idiotic and snatched the flag from their grasp. THAT’S AN AMERICA HERO!
1. 1980 ‘Miracle on Ice’
How could it be any other moment, my fellow Americans?
With the evil Soviets as the villain and the Cold War as the backdrop, a group of American college kids were our only hope. The Soviet Union had won the gold at the previous four Olympic games dating all the way back to 1964. The group of American rag-tag kids stood no chance on paper. But in true underdog fashion, after Mike Eruzione’s go-ahead goal, the Herb Brooks led team pulled off the biggest upset in sports history on their way to the gold.
Is there a more iconic call than Al Michaels’ “Do you believe in Miracles!?” I think not. After the victory, the U.S. team went back to the locker room and began to sing “God Bless America.” It doesn’t get more American than that.