Sports can underscore the best in our society. It shows the determination to excel. The courage to do what is thought to be impossible. Or the compassion to help those in a time of need. The following ten videos demonstrate the very best in sports. Some happened before a world stage while others in front of just a few hundred. But all are the very definition of inspiration, and remind us the power of sports.
Editors’ note: There were several complaints on other message boards that this list was too American-centric. To our overseas readers, please let us know the most inspiring moments in your opinion.
#10 Strug Lands Gold with Sprained Ankle
In the 1996 Olympics Women’s Gymnastics competition, the Russians were making a comeback and it wasn’t apparent what score the American team would need to secure the gold. Kerri Strug was the last American to compete and the hopes of the United States were on her shoulders.
Strug injured herself on the first attempt, scoring a 9.162, short of what was needed. After limping back for her second attempt, iconic coach, Bela Karolyi told Strug, “Kerri, we need you to go one more time. We need you one more time for the gold. You can do it!” The rest is Olympic history.
#9 Fans Cheer For Opposing Prison Team
It’s a privilege to play for the Gainesville State Tornadoes. Although lonely too. Once per week, the players are able to leave their maximum security prison escorted by guards and simply play a high school football game. However, the Tornadoes never get to hear a fan cheer for their side.
That is until Grapevine Faith coach, Kris Hogan, sent an E-Mail to his fans before their game against the Tornadoes. For that one game only, he asked half of his fans to switch sides and cheer for the other team. He wrote to his team’s fans, “Here’s the message I want you to send: You are just as valuable as any other person on planet Earth.” Watch the impact that small act of kindness had on the Gainesville team.
#8 Fenway Crowd Helps Autistic Singer
You never know what sort of reaction a large crowd will have at a major league baseball game, especially when the national anthem is sung poorly. On Disability Awareness Day, the overly nervous Autistic singer struggles greatly with the Star Spangled Banner. But on this day, 20,000 fans are there to help him out.
#7 One-Handed Pitcher Throws No Hitter
One of the rarest feats for a pitcher is to throw a no-hitter. In fact to date, it’s only happened 263 times in all of major league history. To make the rare become incomprehensible, imagine doing it with only one hand.
Jim Abbot learned as a child to loosely place his glove on his right arm, throw with his left, and then quickly put the glove on his usable hand to be ready to field the ball. What made a kid born with no right hand even think he could pitch in a little league game, let alone the Major Leagues? Courage. Determination. And an ability to not accept what the world calls impossible.
#6 Greatest Comeback in NFL History
It’s the very definition of hopeless. Imagine being down 35-3 in the third quarter of a playoff game. The two stars of the team, future Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas, were out of the game injured and countless fans had left the game disgusted.
The backup quarterback, Frank Reich, didn’t seem to comprehend the futility of it all. With the mantra “Don’t Quit” in their heads, the Bills kept trying if for no other reason but to hold their heads high when heading to the locker room. The rest of the game was nothing short of magical.
#5 Derek Redmond and Father Finish 400M Race
Perseverance: the determination to not let anything stop you from your goal. This video demonstrates heroic perseverance in two people. First, British Olympian Derek Redmond’s determination to finish the race for which he spent a lifetime preparing. Secondly, perhaps a more dramatic display of perseverance was his father, without any sort of credentials, sprinting from his seat past countless layers of security to help his injured son.
#4 Amazing Act of Sportsmanship
What happens when in an important conference championship softball game, a player hits a homerun but injures herself at first base and can’t complete the run around the bases? If her own teammates helped her, the rules stated she’d be immediately called out. The events that transpired have now become one of the greatest acts of sportsmanship ever recorded.
#3 The Strength of a Triathlete – And His Father
Dick was a retired lieutenant colonel in the air nation guard. His son, Rick, was a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, however his mind was very strong.
Both compete in a Iron Man Triathalon, and when you get to know them, you wonder who is carrying whom.
#2 J-Mac’s Dream Game
Sometimes, a person just needs a shot at being great. Jason McElwain, the autistic basketball manager who spent his high school career cheering his team, wiping sweat and handing out water got his moment to actually get in a game and took full advantage of the final four minutes given to him. Although only originally seen by a few hundred in the gym at Greece Athena High School, J-Mac as he’s called, went on to win an ESPY for this game as well as being personally congratulated by the President of the United States.
#1 The Miracle on Ice
At the height of the cold war and amid a devastating recession, the American morale was at a low. Then the amateur United States team of young college students found themselves in the semifinal game against the greatest hockey team in the world. The Soviet Hockey team hadn’t lost an Olympic game in 12 years. The rest is, well – as Al Michaels dubbed it, a miracle.