Posted: Fri February 20, 1998 at 8:46 AM ET
NAGANO, Japan (CNN/SI) -- They couldn't sing very well, these women, but that did not matter. They sang their out-of-tune National Anthem and they were beautiful.
Take a picture of what you wanted to show the world about the United States, the place where we live, and this was as good as any -- the U.S. women's hockey team, gold medalists, Olympic champions.
They made the little hairs stand up on the back of your neck, these women. They hugged each other and they cried and they examined their medals with such looks of profound joy and accomplishment that they made you want to cry right along with them.
The final score was 3-1 and the opponent was their arch-nemesis, Canada, the defending world champions, but their victory went much deeper than numbers and names.
This was a victory over preconceptions, misconceptions, over tunnel vision, tradition . . .over whatever causes you want to name that have kept women in the athletic back seat for virtually all of time.
Hockey! This was a final statement of how things have changed.
The girl next door has gone from dolls and tea parties to elbow guards and slapshots in a generation. All doors are open. All possibilities exist. Two years ago, in Atlanta, American women charged through the Olympics, winning gold medals in basketball, softball and soccer. Hockey completed the cycle. Name your game, kid. The women from the U.S. will kick your butt.
"My brothers and I used to re-create the Miracle on Ice from 1980 in our basement," captain Cammi Granato said. "I was always Mike Eruzione."
Anyone can be anything.
That is the message.
There may be daily brushfires and skirmishes on assorted fronts in the perpetual War of the Sexes, but most arguments about sport should be done.
Women certainly can play the game -- any game imaginable -- and they live in an environment, a society, a country, where this is now possible.
These women, these off-key singers from Nagano, were a red-white and-blue Exhibit A, evidence of that.
Copyright © 1999 CNN/SI. A Time Warner Company.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.