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Win One for the Gipper

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"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. I don't know where I'll be then, Rock. But I'll know about it, and I'll be happy.'"
Knute Rockne, University of Notre Dame football coach, quoting George 'Gipper' Gipp

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.


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  • Attempted but failed in Brian's Song. Gayle Sayres asks the rest of the Bears to win the game for Brian Piccolo after his cancer diagnosis, but they end up losing.
    Brian: You got some moves in the field, but in the locker room, you are one big klutz. When you dedicate a game to someone, you are then supposed to go out and win it,idiot. Pat O’Brien never said “let’s blow one for the Gipper.”
  • Knute Rockne, All American famously portrayed the trope-naming speech, which has since been 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. I don't know where I'll be then, Doc," he said, "but I won't smell too good, that's for sure."" [cue Notre Dame's fight song]
  • Major League II 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.
  • The Running Man: After Stalkers Buzzsaw and Dynamo were sent to the game zone, Fireball said, "Let's win one for the Zero!", in reference to Subzero, who was killed by Ben Richards earlier.
  • In Necessary Roughness Coach Wally fakes one of these after Head Coach Gennero is taken to the hospital. "I don't wanna put any undue pressure on you guys, but Coach Gennero's last words were, win or I'll die."


  • 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.
  • Subverted in one Dave Barry column where the athletes' response is "What for? He's dead.".

     Video Games  

  • Referenced in Kingdom Hearts II in one of Genie's summon quotes. "Win one for the gipper! Rah, rah, rah!"
  • In Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, when Grimsdottir tells Sam he needs to stop a missile headed for the USS Ronald Reagan, Sam quips "Did you just tell me to win one for the Gipper?" The reference flies right over Grimsdottir's head and Sam laments he is getting old.

     Western Animation  

  • Parodied in an episode The Simpsons where Mr Burns tells the team "There's a little crippled boy in hospital who wants you to win. I know because I crippled him myself to inspire you."
    Milhouse: (in hospital) I hope they win, or Mr Burns said he's coming back!
    • In the episode where Homer was teaching showboating to sports celebrities, he used this to inspire one of his clients. The kid himself appeared to ask the athlete to do it.
    • At the beginning of "The Boys of Bummer", coach Ned Flanders wears a black armband and asks the little league team to win for Groundskeeper Willie...because he made the armband for him.
  • Parodied in Sponge Bob Square Pants, where Spongebob implores everyone to do well for Squidward, pretending that he was the one who did something nice for them.

     Real Life  

  • Knute Rockne made the whole story up.
  • 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 "Final Four" round of the NCAA 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, went on to win the tournament, and brought the trophy to Ware's hospital room.
  • Not a player, but a whole city: when the New Orleans Saints returned to the Louisiana Superdome in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans the prior year, they proceeded to play one of the best seasons they ever had, winning the first NFC South title in the team's history, the first time that a team with such a poor record the prior season (3-13) had turned its fortunes around in such a manner. The season opener, which saw a pre-game performance of The Skids' "The Saints are Coming" by Green Day and U2, is one of the most widely-viewed regular-season football games in history. The Saints went on to a run of success that lasted until 2012, including a Super Bowl victory in 2010 at the end of the 2009 season. Unfortunately, in 2012 it turned into a bitter subversion, as that was when it was discovered that, since 2009, the Saints had been operating a "bounty pool" in which they gave bonuses to players who injured their competitors on the field, a massive breach of sportsmanship and in violation of several NFL rules. While the bounty pool was not in effect during the 2006 comeback season, Sean Payton, who had started as head coach that year, was implicated in it and received a year-long suspension (the first head coach in modern NFL history to ever be suspended), tarnishing his legacy.