The summer Olympics in scenic Rio are now history. Sport fans reveled in the athletic prowess of our countrymen and women. We sat on the edge of our seats during a swimming final or a gymnastic routine. We cheered for them as if we knew them. We sang along with the winners as they stood in attention to the national anthem.
However the Olympics is not all fun and games. There has been a dark side to it and more than once scandal has marred the games. Lousy judges, bogus scores have created more heart burn than the spiciest meal ever could.
For those of you who remember it will bring back a true sense of ire and disgust. For those of you who were not born – it may be a revelation? However the summer games in Munich 1972 were filled with violence and a robbery.
The Israeli athletes were held hostage and a number of those fine young men died. The perps yet another group of murderous wannabes whose logic as flawed as say the basketball referees and time keeper. Let me explain.
The Olympics are now open to professional athletes. That was not always the case. The Soviet union fielded a team of professional athletes year after year – as they were hired by the state. For some reason it was allowed. Our athletes were frequently college kids, surviving via bake sales, community support. So it was our basketball team comprised of fresh eyed college students faced an older, more experienced Soviet team.
The game was close thorough out the game. There was an ongoing language barrier but the game should speak for itself with little need for an interpreter. Our kids fought and fought hard. They had only been a team for a few months whereas their opponents had been a team for years. It did not seem fair but that was as they say how it was.
At the final buzzer the USA was ahead and the celebration began – until the unthinkable. The Soviets protested there were three more seconds on the clock. The inept time keeper whose English was nil did not seem to know what to do. The USA protested but three more seconds were added and the game continued. Our players were stunned and could not believe what had happened – and their shock continued when a Soviet player easily scored the so called winning goal.
America was livid and anti-Soviet feelings filled all 50 states- from the living room to the courthouse. We were robbed by those red thugs. Shame on the referees and that duffus time keeper. The players felt the sting of injustice so much they refused to accept the silver medal. As far as I know the medals sit in a vault waiting for the team to accept them. I know I would not and as far as I know in the more than four decades since – the medals sit in silence – orphaned.
There was justice to a point if one considers the early death of the Soviet player who made that final score justice? The Soviet union no longer exists, splintered into a number of countries. And the ban on professionals is also history. However, for those of us who recall this game we know that robbery was not just at our corner store but brought clearly into focus on our airwaves and most certainly in our hearts.
Eight years later at Lake Placid – America did beat that horrid Soviet team on a field of ice. We cheered and celebrated as loudly as anyone could and I know there had to be a chorus or two who remembered the USA basketball team of 1972. The reds were beaten at last!