The last thing George said to me, 'Rock,' he said, 'sometime when the team is up against it and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go out there with all they've got and win just one for the Gipper.'
It's the big game. Your team is down. The clock is showing that fleeting moments remain to turn back the enemy and scratch and claw to a win. Nerves are high; energy is down. Fans are getting up and leaving. And the coach calls for a time out and brings the whole team in.
He gives a Rousing Speech
, reminding the team of what they've done and how far they've come. The team can see that his whole heart is with the game and with them. He asks them to go out there and get the win — for himself, for another teammate who couldn't make it that far, or for themselves. Inspired, the players turn around and return to the fray with new enthusiasm.
This doesn't always
work... but it usually does.
- Knute Rockne, All American is the Trope Namer, and probably the most famous example. The "Win one for the Gipper!" speech is repeatedly lampshaded and parodied.
And when Knute Rockne said this to the team, they said, "Why should we? He's dead."
- Dave Barry
- Parodied in Airplane!. Ted Striker feels guilty about causing the death of seven men under his command during the war, including George Zip.
Dr. Rumack: I want to tell you something I've kept to myself through these years. I was in the war. Medical corps. One night, they brought in a badly wounded pilot from one raid. He could barely talk. He looked up at me, he said, "The odds were against us there, but we went in anyway. I'm glad. Captain made the right decision." The pilot's name was George Zip.
Ted Striker: George Zip said that?
Dr. Rumack: The last thing he said to me, "Doc," he said, "Sometime, when the crew is up against it, the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to give it all they've got and win just one for the Zipper!" [cue Notre Dame's fight song]
- Major League 2 has this. First, the manager of the Indians is in the hospital recovering from a heart attack, but tries to avert this trope by telling his successor not to give the team "one of those 'Let's win this one for Lou' speeches... I couldn't stand that." He's promised that won't happen, but later it is played straighter than straight... with a little lie about the severity of Lou's state.
- Averted in McAuslan, when the Gordon Highlanders soccer team is up against the far more powerful Royal Navy. Sports officer MacNeill pointedly does not lecture them - it wouldn't help.
Yes, I thought, get tore in. It's your pay and Samuels' reputation you're playing for. Then I thought, no, the heck with that, it's just for yourselves, that's all.
- Invoked by Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware during the Louisville/Duke "Elite Eight" game on March 31, 2013. (The winner of this game would go on to the NCAA "Final Four" championship.) After a freak accident left Ware laying on the court with six inches of his tibia sticking out of his lower leg, he kept telling his teammates "I'm fine. Go win the game." They did, and brought the trophy to Ware's hospital room.
- Knute Rockne made the whole story up.