IT'S AN iconicimage: U.S. goalie Jim Craig, looking slightly dazed with an American flag overhis shoulders, soaking up the moment after the Miracle on Ice team won hockeygold at the 1980 Olympics. Over the years several museums (including the HockeyHall of Fame in Toronto) asked Craig to donate that famous flag. Hedeclined—until last month, when he let Philip Schwalb display it in the newSports Museum of America. "This is the right spot for it," Craig, 50,says of the SMA, which opened in New York City on May 7. "This isn't just ahall of fame. It's about America, passion and dreams."
Schwalb, 45, whoformerly worked for a museum-design firm, began planning the SMA in 2001 aftera visit to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., got him wonderingwhy there were no general sports museums in the U.S. The 45,000-square-footSMA, funded in part by federal bonds meant to stimulate development in lowerManhattan after the Sept. 11 attacks, features impressive memorabilia, much ofit more meaningful than old jerseys and equipment. The original 1935 HeismanTrophy is there, along with Jesse Owens's diary from the 1936 Olympics, afull-scale stock car, paintings by Muhammad Ali and the six-iron astronaut AlanShepard used to hit balls on the moon. Interactive areas let visitors testtheir sportscasting chops or experience the feeling of having slap shots hurtletoward them.
The SMA alsohouses the Women's Sports Hall of Fame, the first museum for female athletes.(Billie Jean King donated the yellow jacket Bobby Riggs wore for their Battleof the Sexes match.) "My goal was not necessarily to attract die-hardfans," Schwalb says. "It was to appeal to people who don't realizethey're sports fans." The SMA makes it hard not to be.
The Pop CultureGrid
How do sports stars fit in?
__ should've been on PEOPLE's Most Beautiful list
________ just cracks me up
Thing that's been in my fridge the longest
Our locker room smells like ...
My coach hates it when I ...
MIKE NAPOLI Angels C
Aubrey O'Day (left)
Strawberry jelly (two years)
Make fun of his weight
MICHAEL PARKHURST Revolution D
I don't know anyone hot who wasn't on it
Teammate Matt Reis and singer Rob Rock
Chicken patties (five months)
RYAN DEMPSTER Cubs P
Will Ferrell (top)
Jimmy Kimmel (left)
Tuna fish sandwich (three weeks)
Bad gas and deodorant
JOE BEIMEL Dodgers P
Teammate Andre Ethier
The Family Guy
Chico's Pico Salsa (two weeks)
Don't cut my hair
JOSH MERWIN (MUSEUM, 3)
EXHIBIT A Craig's flag and the original Heisman highlight a shrine for all sports.
ANDREW MACPHERSON (FERRELL)
ERIC RISBERG/AP (NAPOLI)
DAVID SILVERMAN/WIREIMAGE.COM (PARKHURST)
BARRY BRECHEISEN/WIREIMAGE.COM (DEMPSTER)
CHARLES LECLAIRE/WIREIMAGE.COM (BEIMEL)
MARK DAVIS/GETTY IMAGES (O'DAY)
KEVIN WINTER/GETTY IMAGES (KIMMEL)
BRIAN TOLBERT/CORBIS (SANDWICH)