Children of the 80s: Top sports memories

If you grew up in the 1980’s, you already know that it was a pretty amazing decade. Television delivered the gifts of Punky Brewster, ALF and the Cosby Show. Pee Wee Herman wasn’t yet a pervert. Technology was on the cutting edge with dot matrix printers and VHS recorders (suck it Betamax!).


As a child of the 80’s you were also influenced by many incredible moments in sporting history. Let’s look back on some of the most impressionable memories that likely altered your adolescent brain.

Ben Johnson Wins 100m Gold in Seoul: 1988
In many ways, this is our cohort’s man-on-the-moon moment; everyone knows where they were when Ben took down arch-rival Carl Lewis. The gold medal win and the record time of 9.79 seconds led to rejoicing across the country. Of course, the highs of that day were quickly replaced with outrage and shame when Ben was disqualified three days later.


Gretzky to Lemieux at Canada Cup: 1987
In another feel-good Canadian story, the ice hockey victory over the Soviet Union at the 1987 Canada Cup is a moment permanently etched into your memory. Many of us still debate which of the two players was the best. But, in that moment, it didn’t matter. Drop pass from Gretzky. Lemieux fires it top shelf. Team Canada breaks a 5-5 tie very late in the 3rd period leading to the win.


Mary Lou Retton: 1984
She rose to fame from her performance at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, and her popularity in the US poured north of the border. She pulled off a perfect 10 in the final event of the individual all-around competition to win gold. Clutch!


Mike Tyson: 1985+
Tyson emerged onto the professional boxing scene in 1985 and pretty much destroyed anything in his path. In his first 28 bouts, he won 26 of them by TKO or KO, most of those coming in the first round.  Children of the 80’s also connected with Tyson via the Nintendo version of Punch-Out. (most of us never got to fight Tyson in the game, but will have fond memories of characters like Glass Joe, Piston Honda and Soda Popinski)


Ball Through Buckner’s Legs: 1986
A routine ground ball goes through the legs of first baseman, Bill Buckner, and the Mets go on to win the World Series.  Fortunately for Red Sox fans, time, along with a couple of World Series titles of their own has helped to heal the wounds from this unbelievable moment in baseball history.


Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God”, World Cup of Soccer: 1986
During an intense World Cup match between England and Argentina, Diego Maradona would record the first goal of the match by punching the ball in with his hand, undetected by the referees. Maradona would score again to seal a 2-1 victory and eventually lead his team to a World Cup title.


Steve Smith’s Own Goal, NHL Playoffs: 1986
In his NHL rookie season, Steve Smith found himself playing as a defenseman on the two-time defending champs, Edmonton Oilers. With the score tied 2-2 in the deciding game 7 of the playoffs, Smith banked the puck in off his own goalie. His team lost the game 3-2.


Bjorn Borg vs McEnroe, Wimbledon Final: 1980
The cool and calm Borg would match up against the fiery McEnroe a total of 14 times on tour, with each player winning 7 times. Many consider their battle at Wimbledon in 1980 to be one of the greatest tennis matches of all time. In that battle, Borg would win after a long 5 set match. (McEnroe would get his revenge the following year). Talent aside, your young 80’s brain was likely more influenced by the on court tantrums displayed by Johnny Mac.


Jack Nicklaus: Masters Win at Age 46: 1986
The Golden Bear shot an incredible -6 on the back half of the Masters’ final round to take the title. This gave Jack an incredible 6th Master’s title, and made him the oldest player in history to win the event.  He had first won the Masters 23 years earlier.


Wayne Gretzky Traded to LA Kings: 1988
The untradeable #99 was dealt to the Kings for players (Jimmy Carson and Martin Gelinas), 3 first round picks and a massive bag of cash ($15 million!). All of Canada was shocked, Wayne cried and Janet stole away the nation’s hockey prize. (it was all her fault, wasn’t it?)



Are you a child of the 80’s? What other sporting memories do you have? Leave us a comment and let us know!

~Written by Rob Davies

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