Rhetorical Analysis: Soviet Pregame Speech

Speeech Circumstances

This speech is given by Coach Herb Brooks before the semi-final match of the 1980 Olympics against the Soviet Union. The Intended Audience are the players and his other coaches as well as the whole U.S.A. Coach was hyping up his players because they came into the game as huge underdogs. He told them to play their game and everything else would fall into place. He wanted them to play with confidence and almost a little cockiness. Because Brooks was completely honest and didn't say a thing he didn't mean, the players were given plenty of encouragement.


  • An appeal that relies on the speaker's credibility and ethics
  • Ex: "You were born to be hockey players-- every one of you, and you were meant to be here tonight. This is your time. Their time is done."


  • Appealing to the audience's emotions or fears. an attempt to build a relationship between the speaker and the audience.
  • Examples: "Their time is done. It’s over. I’m sick and tired of hearing about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw ‘em. This is your time. Now go out there and take it!”
  • "Tonight, we are the greatest hockey team in the world."


  • Appealing to the audience's sense of logic.
  • Examples: "One game; if we played them ten times, they might win nine."
  • “Great moments are born from great opportunity, and that’s what you have here tonight, boys."


*an author's different, specific word choice

  • This is YOUR time
  • Their time is OVER
  • Have a great opportunity
  • Tonight- to show that this is the only thing that matters
  • We

Other Devices

  • Brooks appealed to his audience (the players) by using language that appealed to them such as, "Screw 'em" and "I'm sick and tired".
  • Repetition

All three appeals are definitely used, but pathos is the most effective because Coach inspires his team to believe in themselves and to not backdown. He keeps a somewhat normal voice level until the last part of his speech when he brings up the Soviet’s and says that “there time is over.” His tone says that ending their time is not really an option but more of demand.

The speech can't really be improved because the team went on to beat the Soviets and ultimately, they won a gold medal.

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