Why The Miracle on Ice Marks The End of The Cold War

Unlike mathematics or science, there is a lot of grey area in History and Politics. There are almost no absolutely correct answers in History due to its opinionative nature, so the dates of when events begin or end and whether or not they should have been done is very debatable. One event in history which is rarely debated is the end of the Cold War. Most Historians claim that the falling of the Berlin Wall officially marks the end of the Cold War. However, contrary to what Historians say, the end of the Cold War is actually marked by the US Hockey team’s defeat of the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics because, after the event, the Soviets’ sense of superiority fell while American pride soared, Communism in Euro-Asia began to decline, and the Soviet Union ceased to compete with the United States both technologically and in nuclear development.
After the Soviet Union lost the semi-final match to the United States, it became apparent that they were no longer an invincible world power and consequently Soviet morale began to decline. The USSR Hockey team had won the four previous Olympic Hockey gold medals and was undoubtedly the greatest team in the 1980 Olympics. In fact Gabe Polsky said in an interview that “for almost two decades, [they] were almost unbeatable … they were dominating” (Siegel). The Soviets were expected to crush the US team, anything less would be a disgrace and it was, in fact, after the Olympics was over, “the Soviet players didn’t bother to get their medals engraved” (Scott). Obviously the players were not proud of their defeat and their disappointment was contagious, spreading to affect the whole nation. On top of the Hockey game, “A long period of economic stagnation, followed by Soviet adventurism in Afghanistan, left the economy in shambles” (Rice). The time period from “1980 – 1985 saw … decline in economic growth between .6% and 1.8%” (Hyder). After 1980 the Soviet Union sifts from a long period of power and honor, into a gradual decline in power. This reveals a turning point in Soviet steadfastness and proves that the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States reached its end in 1980.
Not only did Soviet morale decline, but when hard work, determination, and a decent amount of luck resulted in a team of American college Hockey players defeating the infamous Soviet machine, United States morale soared to record levels. In the official 1980 Olympic Report it stated that the United States squad “had bested the veteran USSR team and … their spirit had rallied the entire American nation” (Fizkultura). The fact that the Olympic Report itself states the effect the game had on the US itself reveals how noticeably the victory boosted American pride. In fact, on March 3 after the game, a photograph of the celebration appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated with no words at all (Kluetmeier) because the photographer said, “It didn’t need any … Everyone in America knew what happened” (Smith). The game was at the forefront of Unites States culture, everybody knew that their team had upset the Soviets to win the medal, and it made them proud to be American. Jokispila states that, “The importance of sports as a symbolic arena for competition between nations has hardly ever been more evident than it was during the Cold War” (Jokisipilä) When the United States team played the Soviets, it was far more than a battle between two teams. The teams themselves represented their nations’ respective ideologies, so when the US won, it resembled that Capitalism had finally won the battle and the war was finished. Soviet morale finally began to decline, American pride skyrocketed, and the puck was in the net; the Cold War was over.
Another sign that the Cold War ended in 1980 with the defeat of the Soviet Hockey team is that Communism was on the decline in Asia. Prior to the Winter Olympics, the Vietnam war had already ended when “an agreement was reached in January 1973” (Kort). Additionally, the Korean war had already ended and normal relations were established with the People’s Republic of China in 1979 (Kort), just before