Biggest Sports Moments That Changed the U.S.
The biggest sports moments that changed the U.S. shaped this country’s landscape more than we could have imagined when it was happening in real time.
We have seen hundreds of champions throughout American sports history, but those who get to lift the trophy are small potatoes compared to the biggest sports moments that changed the U.S.
George Bush’s First Pitch
After the tragic events of September 11, 2011, the sporting world got put on hold for a few weeks as Americans coped with the unthinkable tragedy. When the games returned, baseball was under the spotlight, especially in New York with the American League Champion New York Yankees.
President George W. Bush went to the mound to throw out the first pitch. As many people have seen before, public figures and celebrities don’t always fare well pitching it from 60-and-a-half feet away. But Bush threw an absolute dart, signifying that America remained united and ready to heal.
Tiger’s First Masters Win
Rarely do we still an athlete live up to expectations when they have astronomical excitement surrounding them. Tiger Woods is not an example of someone who falls into that category, considering he met the hype and then some when he won the 1997 Masters. Tiger broke through multiple barriers en route to a 12-stroke victory, capping his epic win by hugging his father, who, for better or worse, turned him into the machine he was.
The 1999 Women’s World Cup Winner
The Women’s World Cup in 1999 was a watershed event for all Americans, but especially for women who were constantly in the shadow of less-than-superior male teams. The fact that the tournament was in the United States added to the significance of this World Cup victory. Brandi Chastain drilled the game-winning penalty kick, giving the U.S. the win over the Chinese National Team 5-4 after time expired and the game remained in a scoreless tie. To celebrate, Chastain unforgettably took off her jersey while going to the ground and fist-pumping to the heavens above. This victory cemented the U.S. Women’s team as a dominant force, winning two more (2015 and 2019) since the memorable 1999 squad.
The Miracle on Ice
The best sports stories always have a touch of politics thrown in the middle. Jesse Owens’ domination at the 1936 Berlin games in front of the most heinous man to walk this earth elevated Owens’ remarkable achievements as an Olympic champion. In 1980, the Cold War raged on between the Soviet Union and the United States, leading to the U.S boycotting the Summer Games later that year in Moscow. So, tensions were at an all-time high when the massive underdogs from the U.S. took on the Soviets in Lake Placid, NY, at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games. With Al Michaels, one of the greatest broadcasters on the call, the U.S. shocked the world by winning 4-3, prompting Michaels to ask the view audience if we believed in miracles.
It’s hard to imagine how long it would have taken professional sports to end their bigotry if Branch Rickey didn’t sign Jackie Robinson to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. On April 15, 1947, Robinson became the first Black man to play in Major League Baseball when he took first base for the Dodgers. Robinson scored the game-winning run for Brooklyn, but that was an afterthought compared to breaking the color barrier for baseball and other professional sports. Without Jackie Robinson, we may have never had a Tiger Woods, proving it was the biggest sports moment that changed the U.S.