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Amping up Security for Winter Olympics

Terrorist attack threats against the Winter Olympic Games may cause the USA’s Hockey team to stay at home.

Not everyone is excited about the Olympics. It seems that tension, not enthusiasm, is mounting as the days pass and it gets closer to the start of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Although there have been international tensions between the United States and Russia, a majority of these concerns have been security related. First there was worry in December of an impending terrorist attack at the games, and now the Russian security is currently looking for three potential female suicide bombers. One of the bombers is believed to be located in the city of Sochi, an imminent threat not to be taken lightly.

Of course the security issues and potential threats are a concern for all Olympic athletes and guests who are travelling to Sochi this year for the games, but ice hockey, especially the men’s team, seems to be worried most about the welfare of its players. The National Hockey League (NHL) has had a large presence in the security discussion, but this should come as no surprise since the entire team is comprised of professional players from the NHL.In addition to the security concerns, the NHL is also debating whether to allow their professional players participate in future Olympics after the Sochi games. The debate raises questions of who will be chosen for Team USA and will compete for the gold in 2018 if NHL players are banned from participating. This is not news – the NHL and the player’s association have been deciding on future Olympic participation since the professionals started participating in the games in 1998. What is worrisome is that there has been talk of whether the current team will even be allowed to travel to Russia in light of the potential security issues.

What would Team USA be like without men’s hockey? It’s difficult to imagine such a situation. Olympic ice hockey would not be the same without the participation of Team USA–especially since we are the only non-European hockey team in the competition. Furthermore, it is no secret that the players from the NHL possess incredible talent, but has the legacy of 1980 and the coaching mastery of Herb Brooks already been forgotten? Why are we not looking at collegiate players who possess raw talent? Is it necessary that every player on the roster come from the NHL? Granted, it is just something to consider that, after all, many of the best collegiate players go on to play for the NHL.

There are twelve men’s teams taking part in the Olympics this year: Group A (USA, Russia, Slovakia, and Slovenia); Group B (Canada, Finland, Norway, Austria); and Group C (Sweden, Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Latvia). Every one of these teams will fight hard for the gold, but it is too early to tell who will come out on top.

Some have argued that Team USA stands no chance against Russia and Canada – both countries possess highly talented teams (it is Russia and Canada after all). It is undeniable that it would be an amazing underdog story if the United States somehow comes out on top and gets to compete for the gold – and win. Would it not be fantastic to beat Russia on their home turf? Regardless, it is of the utmost importance to make sure the security is top-notch for both the athletes and the spectators, and to ensure that Team USA is allowed to compete in this Olympics as well as many to come. To quote Herb Brooks, “Risk something or forever sit with your dreams.” Keep the legacy alive.

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