×

You don’t own the ’80 hockey team

In a recent Enterprise opinion article, Senior Staff Writer Lou Reuter found it troubling that Olympic “Dream Team” hockey players appeared prominently at a Donald Trump political rally.

His article’s first half wins our interest and appreciation as Lou enthusiastically recounts experiences and associations with the famed hockey players. But in the second half something goes haywire, and Lou’s article introduces the complaint-ful tone we see time to time in crackpot political submissions to the Enterprise.

That abrupt Jekyll-to-Hyde transformation is odd and occasions inquiry into what happened to Lou between the first and second halves of his article.

It seems his displeasure with the Dream Team players inspired Lou to the novel idea that he and fellow Americans could “claim a part ownership in the Miracle on Ice.” Per this thesis, those many and preponderant “part ownership” claims would prevent the hockey players from acting discordantly to the wishes of even one “part owner.” The poor players would be forever enjoined to walk on eggshells, eschewing any conduct offensive to all and sundry “part owners.”

That sounds wacky, but Lou’s proposition that “part ownerships” can be claimed for the achievements of others is at least interesting and directs attention to other accomplishments for which persons like Lou might claim “part ownership.”

What about a baseball championship? Since Lou is a resident of New York, can he claim “part ownership” in the World Series triumph of the fabled 1961 New York Yankees?

What about a World Chess Championship? Since it was won by an American in 1972, does Lou have a “part ownership” claim for that, too?

What about the International Tchaikovsky Competition? An American won in 1958, so can Lou press his “part ownership” claim for that cultural achievement, too?

This only scratches the surface, and we have to wonder if there exists any triumph — from any place or era — for which Lou might not claim “part ownership.” The Enterprise might even have to build Lou a trophy case so he can exhibit the many “part ownership” deeds he has or will soon claim for the multitudinous accomplishments of others. Good for him.

Most of us are without the ambition with which Lou is able to claim these “part ownerships.” We instead grant full ownership for the Olympic hockey championship to Herb Brooks, Mike Eruzione, Jim Craig and other players and coaches of that 1980 team. We grant full ownership for the 1961 World Series championship to Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and other Yankee players and coaches. We grant full ownership for the 1971 chess championship to the brooding genius of Robert Fischer. And we grant full ownership for the Tchaikovsky award to the pianism of Van Cliburn as he blazed through the concerto to thunderous applause from an awestruck Moscow audience.

We grant these athletes and artists full ownership because the work and effort producing their achievements were theirs. They put in the hours, the training, the struggles and frustrations. Full ownership thus belongs to them, not to persons coming along decades later to grab some illusory “part ownership” in their historic accomplishments.

In titling his article, Lou declares that the hockey players suffered a “tough lesson” for their supportive appearance at the Donald Trump rally. But that’s not true, Lou — it’s you who have suffered a “tough lesson.” Maybe two.

Your first tough lesson is that you have no “part ownership” claim whatsoever to famous achievements and accomplishments for which you’ve not rendered the slightest participatory contribution.

Your second tough lesson is that you’re out of touch if you can’t understand why sensible and level-headed persons like the hockey players support President Trump. You may, of course, rail against them (and him) if you wish, but that will never constrain the liberty by which they conduct themselves, freely and unfettered by you.

John Edelberg lives in Saranac Lake.