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PLAYING IN A DREAM WORLD
E.M. Swift
December 12, 1983
The U.S. Olympic hockey team doesn't believe for a minute that it will simply toy with the mighty Soviets at Sarajevo
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December 12, 1983

Playing In A Dream World

The U.S. Olympic hockey team doesn't believe for a minute that it will simply toy with the mighty Soviets at Sarajevo

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We're on another bus now. It is outside Boston or Worcester or Providence—some industrial city in the Northeast. There are fewer than 30 games to go before Sarajevo. They have two months to become a team.

Vairo is talking again, animatedly. He's explaining how in January he will show the players videotapes of Sarajevo, of the rooms they will be sleeping in and the rink in which they'll be playing. Of the town and the streets and the food. Of the people—everything. So that when they get there it won't be new. So that, starting in January, the players will be able to close their eyes and imagine exactly what it will be like to win there.

Vairo tells an apocryphal story of the first high jumper to clear seven feet in competition. "They ask him afterwards," Vairo says, " 'Did you ever jump seven feet before?' 'Ten thousand times,' the guy says. 'When? In practice?' 'No. I put a piece of tape on my wall seven feet high. Every morning and every night I vividly imagined myself going over it.' Every morning and every night. So that when the time came to do it, he knew he could do it."

Vairo's eyes grow big. "Listen. They have to believe. That's why I tell them about the Polish team in Katowice. That's why we'll use the videotapes. First, we must get to the medal round. Then I'd guess we'd play Sweden in the first game, and we can beat Sweden. Then we'd meet Russia for the gold medal. I can see it. I can see the score. I'm not saying what it is, but I'm going to share it with the team before we get there, and then we're going to have a team dream. Why not have a good daydream? It's natural to daydream."

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