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October 14, 2015

ABC sportscaster Jim McKay dead at 86

by Allison Waldman, posted Jun 7th 2008 1:45PM
McKayLong before ESPN was the worldwide leader in sports, ABC sportscaster and newsman Jim McKay was the voice of American sports. ABC sports legend Jim McKay died today at the age of 86; the cause of death was not revealed. In the annals of television history, Jim McKay is among the giants in sports broadcasting: a twelve-time Emmy winner, an iconic presence on The Wide World of Sports, the man who said the words, "the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat." He was the moderator of twelve Olympics and a broadcaster who gave the best he had in every television show in which he was involved, be it the Kentucky Derby, the British Open, or any of the other hundreds of events he covered.

If Jim McKay had just done that, he'd have a great legacy. However, when he was confronted with the task of anchoring the events that unfolded at the 1972 Munich Olympics, when the Israeli athletes were taken hostage by terrorist and killed in a commando raid, Jim McKay rose to the occasion.

Jim McKay was the voice that got us through that tragic time. He was eloquent and emotional, as assured in his function as a newsman as he was in touch with the gripping human drama of that event. Jim McKay redefined the term sportscaster that day, bringing new respect to the word. He was given two Emmys that year, one for his sports coverage and the other for Munich. The day after the event, Walter Cronkite cabled McKay to congratulate him for his excellent work under tremendous stress. "Dear Jim, today you honored yourself, your network and your industry. Walter Cronkite."

I remember watching the Olympics that year; I remember listening and watching Jim McKay. He couldn't take away the pain or horror of what happened, but he was someone I trusted to tell me the truth and connect as a real person. Bob Costas said of McKay, "You never felt what he expressed wasn't genuine. You never felt his reaction was, What's called for here is a tear. You never had a sense that he professed to be moved, and when they went to a commercial he blew his nose."

McKay, whose real name was Jim McManus, was the father of CBS Sports and News president Sean McManus, yet another contribution he made to the world of television. In 1990 he received of the first-ever Lifetime Achievement in Sports award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

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Jim McKay was one of my favorites, along with Keith Jackson and Al Michaels. Bob Costas is great but doesn't do much play-by-play anymore. I don't see alot of great young ones coming up to take these legends places. Most of them are too busy screaming into the mics the whole time.

June 07 2008 at 9:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A legend. Shouldn't even have "sports" as a qualifier to his job title. He was that good.

June 07 2008 at 7:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A great one! He will be missed.

June 07 2008 at 7:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They don't make them like that anymore. I can still hear his voice. He will be missed.

June 07 2008 at 3:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm very sorry to hear that. I was too young to have seen the Munich games live, but as I grew up Jim McKay WAS the Olympics for me. That voice, and all the other aspects of the ABC Sports coverage of the Olympics, defined the event. No one, even Bob Costas, who I have great respect for, has ever been able to duplicate that experience.

Jim McKay was an epic broadcaster. He will be missed.

June 07 2008 at 2:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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