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Miracle team says Trump rally was ‘not about politics’

Donald Trump

After appearing on stage at a Donald Trump political rally in Las Vegas Friday night, the 1980 USA Olympic hockey team said there was nothing political about it via Twitter.

“To us, this is not about politics or choosing sides,” @1980MiracleTeam tweeted. “This is about proudly representing the United States of America. Whether your beliefs are Democratic, Republican or Independent, etc. we support that and are proud to represent the USA.”

Most of the team members there wore red “Keep America Great” hats.

The team was in Nevada to drop the puck at a Vegas Golden Knights game and to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1980 Olympics when they beat the seemingly unbeatable Soviet Union hockey team in what is now known as the “Miracle on Ice.” Meanwhile, Lake Placid held its own celebration commemorating the winter games, which included athlete panels, a torch run recreation and ice skating shows.

Throughout social media people criticized while others supported the hockey team’s appearance with Trump.

Broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien of “Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien” condemned the act, tweeting, “Ugh…. so disappointed by the @1980MiracleTeam. I loved watching that game as a kid with my dad. Loved watching the movie with my kids. To see them on a stage, in maga hats–kinda crushing I have to say.”

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik tweeted, “Thank you @realDonaldTrump for honoring the historic @1980MiracleTeam for the 40th Anniversary of the #MiracleOnIce! #NY21 is the proud home of this amazing game in Lake Placid! ‘Do you believe in miracles?’ We do in #NY21!”

On the Enterprise Facebook page, Bonnie Shatraw Wingler said, “The team just lost my respect. Had they been invited to the White House and celebrated there that would be appropriate and nonpartisan. A campaign rally is partisan”

Kathleen Potter Park said, “The USA 1980 men’s hockey team charges big money to appear together. They went where the money was. I also feel like their obligation should have been to come to Lake Placid, but money talks.”

Eileen Orme simply wrote, “Disgusting.”

On the other side of the argument, Matthew Timm said, “Oh no are you guys going to ban the team now lol… Liberals….”

Tim Oropallo said, “Together they will beat the Russians again outstanding.”

Hannah Withe Marshall said, “Cool!”

The ’80 Olympics were going on at the height of the Cold War. Tensions were high between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The threat of nuclear attacks had been a fear since the end of World War II. Many of the hockey players have said politics weren’t on their minds during the games.

In a 2019 interview with the Lake Placid News, winger Eric Strobel said, unlike spectators, the hockey players didn’t see any grander image to the Miracle on Ice game. They were just playing hockey.

“We were kids. We were 21 years old,” he said. “We didn’t have any comprehension of what was going on. We were playing the game, trying to win. We weren’t thinking about the Cold War or gas prices. All we wanted to do was beat the Russians. It wasn’t political at all.”

In a recent interview with WBUR Boston radio, team captain Mike Eruzione said, “We focused on the hockey game. We didn’t know what was going on around us. We weren’t allowed to talk to the media, so we didn’t know what was happening other than what was going on in Lake Placid and maybe at home with our family and friends. That was a good thing, because we were shocked by it when we got out into the country and realized: This thing was pretty huge. So, we were in a little village in Lake Placid, and pretty much kept to ourselves, and the task at hand was to play hockey … the political climate, that was never discussed … To us, it was a hockey game.”

(Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said the team members wore “Make America Great Again” hats. Actually the hats said “Keep America Great,” Trump’s current campaign slogan. The Enterprise regrets the error.)

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