June 7, 2008

A NARROWER WORLD TODAY:

Jim McKay, Olympics and ABC announcer, dies at age 86 (ESPN.com, June 7, 2008)

McKay won numerous awards for journalism, including the George Polk Memorial Award and two Emmys -- one for his sports coverage, the other for his news reporting -- for his work at the 1972 Munich Olympics, which were tragically affected by the Black September terrorists' attack on the Israeli athletes in the Olympic Village.

In 1988, McKay was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.

In 1968, McKay won the first of his 13 Emmy Awards, becoming the first sports commentator to receive that honor.

His 12th Emmy, in 1988, was not for his talents as a broadcaster but as the writer of the openings for ABC Sports' coverage of the 1987 Indianapolis 500, the British Open and the Kentucky Derby. He is the only broadcaster to have won Emmys for sports and news broadcasting and for writing.

In 1990 he was the recipient of the first-ever Lifetime Achievement in Sports award from the Academy. In 1992 he was the recipient of an Emmy Award in the Individual Achievement category for the ABC Sports special, "Athletes and Addiction: It's Not a Game."

In 1989 McKay received the Peabody Award, which is presented annually to recognize the most distinguished and meritorious public service programming rendered each year on radio and television.


MORE:
Sportscaster Jim McKay dies at 86 (Associated Press, June 7, 2008)

McKay -- understated, dignified and with a clear eye for detail -- covered 12 Olympics, but none more memorably than the Summer Games in Munich, Germany. He was the anchor when events turned grim with the news that Palestinian terrorists kidnapped 11 Israeli athletes. It was left to McKay to tell Americans when a commando raid to rescue the athletes ended in tragedy.

"They're all gone," McKay said.

The terse, haunting comment was replayed many times through the years when the events of Munich were chronicled. [...]

"He was a founding father of sports television, one of the most respected commentators in the history of broadcasting and journalism," said George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN and ABC Sports. "

Added Bob Iger, president and chief executive of The Walt Disney Company: "He was a regular guy who wrote and spoke like a poet."

McKay's first television broadcast assignment was a horse race at Pimlico in 1947. It was the start of a love affair -- horse racing captivated him like nothing else.

"There are few things in sport as exciting or beautiful as two strong thoroughbreds, neck and neck, charging toward the finish," he once said.

Racecaller Dave Johnson worked with McKay during horse racing telecasts.

"How many Saturday afternoons did we spend with Jim McKay?" he said from Belmont Park. "Maybe more than with family members. Never a cross word out of him, such a decent human being."

Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports and Olympics, worked with McKay for six years at ABC Sports.

"He was truly the most respected and admired sportscaster of his generation and defined how the stories of sports can and should be covered," he said. "While we all know what an absolute titan he was in his chosen field, I will always remember him as an extraordinary human being guided by a strong moral compass."

U.S. Olympic Committee chairman Peter Ueberroth said McKay set a standard for sports journalism.

"Jim is synonymous with the Olympic Games." he said. "As host of ABC's Olympic coverage, he brought into our homes the triumphs and struggles of athletes from around the world."

The New York Yankees paused to remember McKay before the national anthem today, and fans at a packed Yankee Stadium responded with applause.

McKay left his mark on countless colleagues. Bob Costas called McKay a "singular broadcaster."

"He brought a reporter's eye, a literate touch, and above all a personal humanity to every assignment," Costas said. "He had a combination of qualities seldom seen in the history of the medium, not just sports."

Al Michaels described McKay as the "personification of class and style."

"His enthusiasm permeated every event he covered and thus always made it far more interesting," he said. "I always thought of him as a favorite teacher."

Mike Tirico, covering the NBA finals in Boston for ABC and ESPN, worked four British Opens with McKay. He said McKay held a special place in his household while growing up in Queens in New York.

"Dinner wasn't served on Saturday night until 'Wide World of Sports' was over," Tirico said.


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Posted by Orrin Judd at June 7, 2008 9:55 AM
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