Do you believe in Miracles? – Collective Belief in Sports

Dave Meltzer discusses the difference between miracles and collective belief.
Miracles or Collective Belief?

People often tend to confuse miracles for collective belief.

A miracle is when an event occurs, despite impossibly long odds against it, where we often see people point to divine intervention as a cause. Collective belief is an unseen uniting force which helps us to circumvent the many obstacles in our way, something that is often confused for a miracle. There is nowhere this idea is more prevalent than in sports, where teamwork and belief can make anything possible.

Giant Underdogs

One of the standout examples of the power of collective belief was seen in Super Bowl XLII, where the New York Giants faced off against the undefeated New England Patriots. Few people gave the G-Men a chance, thinking that Tom Brady and company would steamroll their opponent just like they had done all season long.

Fortunately, the Giants did not buy into this belief and, with the team down 14-10 with 1:16 left, Eli Manning scrambled away and threw up what is commonly known as a “prayer” to backup wide receiver David Tyree. Tyree caught the ball (and became an icon) by pinning it against his helmet, making an important first down and putting the Giants in a position to score a go-ahead touchdown a few plays later. This one play prevented the Patriots from becoming the first undefeated NFL team since the Dolphins in 1972, and it was only possible because the Giants believed in themselves. They had a powerful collective belief which empowered them to push past any negativity they faced.

Combat Negativity with Belief

Two years later, we saw another Super Bowl which showcased the power of human resolve.

Super Bowl XLIV saw the Indianapolis Colts face off against the New Orleans Saints in a battle of great quarterbacks. The Saints organization was still recovering from Hurricane Katrina a handful of years earlier, which had dispersed many fans throughout the South, damaged their stadium, and nearly forced the team to move.

The Saints chose not to listen to the pundits who preferred MVP Peyton Manning to Drew Brees. The team ignored those who mentioned that the Colts had won 14 straight games during the regular season. They fought this negativity by uniting under a single cause: win the Super Bowl for the city of New Orleans and help the city to heal. This attitude is why the team started the second half of the game with an onside kick, which had never been done in Super Bowl history. The Saints eventually scored 18 unanswered points to win, taking home their first Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.

Overcoming Odds

The 2015-2016 Premier League season saw another example of a powerful collective belief which helped to elevate a team’s play. In their second year in the league, former third-tier soccer club Leicester City won the Premier League as a 5000-1 longshot. Led by a new coach, the team excelled, with striker Jamie Vardy scoring 13 goals over 11 consecutive matches from August to November, breaking records and inspiring an organization in the process.

“I want to be strong because you believe in me. You have to trust me. I give my knowledge to you. That is my philosophy.” – Leicester City coach Claudio Ranieri

Miracle on Ice or Collective Belief?

Then, finally, the 1980 Olympics’ Miracle on Ice is the best representation of what collective belief can accomplish. Coach Herb Brooks focused on the collective belief of his team, encouraging them to unite in their dislike of him and his coaching practices, rather than a dislike of each other.  Most of these young college players had spent the past 4 or 5 years competing and focusing on their dislike of each other, so this was no easy task. Getting them to unite was important, they were going to play the most dominant hockey team ever assembled. The Russians that were known for their teamwork and unity…spending much more time together on the ice than other teams.

There was a lot of negativity concerning USA Hockey’s chances in the tournament, given the fact that fact that the Soviets had won 5 of the last 6 gold medals and beaten the US 10–3 a few weeks previous. The ragtag team of college players went on to beat the world’s greatest team, maybe ever, known as the Miracle on Ice, thanks to their camaraderie and belief in each other. The power that a united team possesses is why I like to call that moment “the Collective Belief on Ice.”

Can you inspire it?

That is why it is so important to not only to empower others but to empower others to believe. Create change by focusing in on what you want as a collective. That is how world peace can be achieved, by coming together to empower others to empower others with peace. That is the miracle I am waiting for!  Please help me!

By: Dave Meltzer

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