Saturday, June 07, 2008

Jim McKay 1921-2008

Legend is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. People and events become legendary at the drop of a hat; without any consideration of context or importance.

Jim McKay was a legend in the sportscasting world. Simply put, he was the best ever at what he did. The fact that he made what he did look so easy is a testament to his ability and his talent. Where there were once a handful of people who played his role, with the proliferation of cable outlets in this media-savvy world, there are now hundreds - if not thousands. None has ever approached the brilliance of Jim McKay. And that brilliance was rooted in McKay's ability to come across as the everyman. McKay knew that viewers were not tuning in to see Jim McKay. They were tuning in to see the Olympics, or golf, or little league baseball, or dog sled racing in Alaska, or whatever (and wherever) the producers of ABC's Wide World of Sports chose to send him that particular week. McKay was all of us, marveling at the wonder, as he put it at the beginning of Wide World of Sports each week, of the "human drama of athletic competition."

McKay was a great newsman and journalist, as he proved during the moment that pushed his fame well beyond the sporting world - the tragedy in Munich at the 1972 Olympics, and the deaths at the hands of terrorists of the Israeli team. At that moment, he showed that his true peers were not Chris Schenkel or Howard Cosell, but Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley.

Update: A tribute from Awful Announcing.

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