Saturday, June 07, 2008

A Good Sport, a Great Journalist and So Much More .....

..... would be just one of many good ways to begin a tribute for Jim McKay, the groundbreaking sportscaster who died today of natural causes. He was 86.

HERE is a complete write-up on McKay's passing from

If you're the right age, if you can remember an era where the media wasn't saturated with sports programming, you have a genuine appreciation for just how groundbreaking. This was the man, first and foremost, who was "spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sports," and he took millions of us along with him, to witness "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”

It was an era when the American Broadcasting Company dominated television sports coverage with innovative programming and technology. Behind the camera, Roone Arledge was the man with the plan - and the bucks - to take that coverage to ever-greater heights. But it was McKay, the man in front of the camera, with whom we became so familiar, so comfortable - on "Wide World of Sports," "The American Sportsman," the Olympics and so much more.

And that included those times when sports became news ... real news, like that day in Munich, Germany, in 1972, when McKay told us, “They’re all gone” and that the terrorist attack that had struck the Olympics had been played-out to a terrible and tragic end.

With this gentleman's passing, Alan Abrahamson writes in
this tribute, a piece of cultural history is gone forever.

"He was a talented and eloquent newsman," said President George Bush in a statement released earlier today, "and a storyteller whose special gift was his ability to make the viewers at home genuinely care about more than just who won or lost."

McKay was a gentleman, it was noted. He conducted himself with modesty and the respect he showed others was genuine ... "They call that class," one observer suggested.

It's a type of class that's harder to find nowadays, for all the thousands of hours of sports programming on television, on any given week. There seems to be so much more emphasis on the sportscaster's attitude - flippant and full of sass, in-your-face, joking and jiving, outspoken and controversial, so much more respect for self than for the viewing public - than there is in the scores to be reported, and the stories to be told.

For all it's huge popularity with today's viewing public, it's really not for me ... it's really not the style I enjoyed so much when I was a youngster - one of so many that was invited along every week for that 'globe-spanning' ride.

Thanks for the invite, Jim ..... goodbye and God bless.

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