They're all gone
Looking back at my career as a sportswriter, I have confidence that I have some ability. And for this era, I can get plenty of exposure. I’ve reported for the Boston Globe, Anchorage Daily News, Riverside Press-Enterprise and the Dallas Morning-News among other newspapers. Just strictly as a sports writer - punditry aside - I feel I’ve done fairly well. By today’s standards.
But this is 2008. If I had tried for a career as a sports journalist in the 1940s, I’d be a copy boy. At best. There were far, far less media outlets, and the cream truly rose to the top.
Today sports journalism lost one of those men that rose to the top during that ultra-competitive and special time of sports journalism. Jim McKay died today at age 86.
McKay - born James Kenneth McManus and a veteran of the U.S. Navy in World War II - was a reporter in Baltimore before moving into television, and if you lived in Baltimore at the time, the first voice you ever heard come from a television set was McKay’s. McKay kicked around a bit before landing the job that will define him - host of “Wide World of Sports.”
McKay covered everything, from golf’s majors, to horse racing, to motor racing, to the Olympics. All told he covered more than 100 sports in 40 different nations.
It was at the 1972 Olympics when McKay truly became a part of journalism history. When Palestinian terrorists took 11 Israeli athletes hostage, the U.S. was glued to the set as McKay calmly and professionally detailed the horrifying events. When the athletes were all murdered, McKay’s uttered just a few words. But in those words, you felt his humanity, the sense of loss, and the seriousness of the moment of what would become known as the Munich Massacre.
“When I was a kid my father used to say our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realized. Our worst fears have been realized tonight. They have now said there were eleven hostages; two were killed in their rooms yesterday morning, nine were killed at the airport tonight. They’re all gone.”
Jim McKay is now gone the way of such great sports journalists as Red Smith, Jim Murray, Grantland Rice, Damon Runyon, and the others who made sports and the world come alive with their words, either spoken or written.
Today, we are in a world where you are bombarded with information from all angles. And no where is this more prevalent than in sports journalism. But we are a collection of hacks. From ESPN, to the Boston Globe to WorldGolf.com, today’s sports journalists will never understand the games, the moments, or the vitality of athletic competition with the depth of a McKay.
Jim McKay was one of the best in one of the greatest era of sports journalism. A gifted writer and speaker, he made the games come alive. And for 40 years he talked us through every game imaginable. He truly spanned the globe and brought us a constant variety of sports, and he eloquently described the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
Like all the great sports journalists that have gone before him, Jim McKay will be missed. Especially because in the vast jungle that is sports journalism today, there’s just no one here that can replace him.
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Please dont' scare and scar us with this kind of RonMon-worthy Google title, K. I'm also a little worried about your sudden McDonald write all your blogs for the week in one sitting flurry.
But good points on McKay.
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