Conversations about the Miracle on Ice often turn to the national mood on that day in February. The economy seemed to be in reverse, and gas lines and inflation dominated the news. Jimmy Carter spoke on TV about a national malaise, citing a "crisis of confidence." Carter told the nation, "We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives." It was not exactly morning in America.
Abroad, Americans were held hostage in our own embassy in Iran. Soviet tanks were in Afghanistan and there was talk that the U.S. would boycott the upcoming summer games in Moscow.
On February 23, The New York Times carried four stories above the fold: One was on the stunning hockey upset, the others were about a huge one-day jump in inflation, anti-Soviet riots in Kabul, and the seemingly endless negotiations to release the hostages in Iran. The nation needed the Miracle.
"The mood of the country, it was just so crappy. Gas lines and Carter coming on TV telling you to turn your thermostat down and the whole Iran thing and the economy sucked and everything ... the Soviets were just bigger, better, stronger, in everything."
- Dan Brooks