9

Victory—The One and Only End Game

If you lose this game, you will take it to your (expletive) grave.

HERB BROOKS

Some may think it a bit ironic or curious after having come this far in the book that there would be a strategy titled “Victory—The One and Only End Game.” I guess people might consider it a given—right? You put in a lot of hard and smart work and you follow the game plan and then you are done. You're already a winner.

Not quite. Actually, not even close.

There is one thing that athletics teaches you: that life isn't fair—there are winners and losers, champions and runner-ups, those who snatch victory from defeat and those who crumble and choke and give up big leads in the third period.

I can go on and on how grown-ups are creating a defeatist culture in which no one wins and no one loses. The truth of the matter is, in that culture, everyone loses. If America stops keeping score and going head-to-head then we might as well resign now to second-tier status on the world stage.

We came to Lake Placid in optimum physical and mental condition. We had done everything that we needed to in practice and training. All those strategies that you read about and which were described earlier in the book, we had hewed to and followed them tightly. But here's the thing—they don't award gold medals for what you do in practice.

Gold medals are won in the arena—on game day.

Jim receives his gold medal from International Olympic Committee President Lord Killanin.

Credit: AP Images ...

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