Why the name on the front is more important than the name on the back

After watching one of my all-time favorite movies, Miracle, in film class last month, it got me thinking: what made the success? How did a team of 20 rookies walk into the greatest sports event in the world and reach the pinnacle of victory?

In 1980 Herb Brooks took the US hockey team to win a gold medal in the Olympics. To this day, no one can quite pinpoint how the hell they pulled that off. A roster of 20 guys right out of college, all from different areas, all with different stories and backgrounds defeated the world’s number one hockey team with men almost twice the experience of the US players, twice as strong, who had been playing together years. Emphasis on “the world’s number one hockey team,” just to clarify, that means there was no hockey team on the face of the earth that was better than the Soviet Union. So how did it happen? A question asked out of amazement, awe, and ambiguity.

It’s not so much “how did it happen,” as it is: how was it made possible? The answer is simple, those 20 hockey players made the decision that the sum was more important than the parts. They put the team before the player.

There wasn’t one player on that 1980 USA Hockey team that was in that rink for themselves. They were there for the teammate playing next to them, for their families in the stands, their friends watching live from their houses, for their coach standing across from them

Be as confident and glorified as you desire on your own, but once you put your jersey on you play for the team on the front not the person on the back. Put your team first because they’ll put you first too. Have pride in the team you represent and do right by them

Being a part of a team is having the opportunity to be a part of something greater than you could ever achieve or accomplish on your own. No player is flawless, no team is perfect. The bond that comes from a team that doesn’t crucify flaws, but embraces strengths gives the optimal outcome. You represent the team first and yourself second. A team made up of players with pride and passion in what they represent as a whole rather than an ego they look to feed is what separates the gold medalists from the silver. The satisfaction as a whole is greater than the self-glory.

“When you pull on that jersey, the name on the front is a hell of a lot more important than the name on the back,” –Herb Brooks.

The US Hockey team had the chance to live and be a part of the greatest upset in Olympic history. They weren’t perfect. They didn’t have the most proficient athletes. However, as quoted in the movie Miracle, Herb Brooks states, “I’m not looking for the best players, I’m looking for the right ones.” He found the players that were willing to do whatever it would take, and give everything they had, all for an unknown. As parts of a whole, they made the decision to play for their country, rather than playing for themselves. There wasn’t a guy on the team that wanted to take the glory for himself. There was a realization that without the team aspect, there’s no glory to claim. Playing with a purpose to do right by the people who gave them the shot in the first place, led to the greatest moment of their lives.

With that being said, it took them awhile to get to that point. Some of them would never be friends, however that doesn’t change the fact that they’re still teammates. They didn’t always have a grasp on the concept of team. They didn’t all get along, they didn’t agree on everything, if anything. But something about sprinting across the line after hours of playing, with aching muscles, and breaking bones, trying to decide which is worse: not breathing or gasping for air; laying on the ground in utter pain, only to, once again, hear the sound of the whistle which means you’ve got another lap, creates a bond and unifies a team. And as you make your way back to the line, pulling yourself together for the next sprint your confident is coming, to hear your breathless and panting teammate scream out,

“Mike Eruzione. Winthrope, Massachusetts.”

“Who do you play for?”

“I play for…The United States of America.”