Ethan Scheiner, author of "Freedom to Win"

Event date: 

Tuesday, July 25, 2023 - 6:00pm

Event address: 

276 Village Square
Orinda, CA 94563-2504
Freedom to Win cover
Ethan Scheiner

A classic David & Goliath tale - with the hockey rink serving as an arena for a nation’s resistance.

During the height of the Cold War, a group of small-town young men would lead their underdog hockey team from the little country of Czechoslovakia against the Soviet Union, the juggernaut in their sport. As they battled on the ice, the young players would keep their people’s quest for freedom alive, and forge a way to fight back against the authoritarian forces that sought to crush them.

From the sudden invasion of Czechoslovakia by an armada of tanks and 500,000 Warsaw Pact soldiers, to a hockey victory over the Soviets that inspired half a million furious citizens to take to the streets in an attempt to destroy all representations that they could find of their occupiers, Freedom to Win tells a story that ranges from iconic moments in history to courageous individual stories. We will witness the fearless escape by three brothers who make up the core of the national team. We will experience thrilling world championship games. We will watch as one brave player takes a stand and leads ten thousand people in a tear-filled rendition of the Czechoslovak national anthem amid chants of “freedom!” while a revolution rages in the streets of Prague. And we will cheer as the team takes on its nemesis one last time with the Olympic gold medal at stake.

At the heart of Freedom to Win is the story of the Holíks, a Czechoslovak family whose resistance to the Communists embodied the deepest desires of the people of their country. Faced with life under the cruel and arbitrary regime that had stolen their family butcher shop, the Holík boys became national hockey icons and inspirations to their people.

Filled with heart-pounding moments on the ice and unforgettable slices of history, Freedom to Win is the ultimate tale of why sports truly matter.

Ethan Scheiner is Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Davis. His previous books include Democracy without Competition in Japan and Electoral Systems and Political Context. He now teaches and writes on the intersection of politics and sports. His writing on sports and political resistance has appeared in the Washington Post, Stars and Stripes, Politico, and The Daily Beast.