For many veteran viewers, Jim McKay simply means the Olympics. He has been around, it seems, almost since the beginning of the modern Games in 1896. And no one who heard it will forget his somber, controlled announcement when the fate of the 11 Israeli team members was learned during the 1972 Munich Games: “They’re gone. They’re all gone.”
The native Marylander (and part-owner of the Baltimore Orioles) will be working his 12th Olympics in Salt Lake City, this time broadcasting for NBC instead of ABC.
“I remember when NBC locked up the games for what seemed like forever, I looked at my wife and said, ‘Well, Margaret, that’s it. It looks like our Olympic days are over,’” said McKay, 80, who lives in Monkton outside of Baltimore.
Two former McKay assistants, NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol and ABC counterpart Howard Katz decided otherwise. Katz was a production assistant to McKay 27 years ago, and Ebersol was McKay’s first researcher, during the 1968 Summer and Winter Games.
“It was just totally unexpected,” McKay said of his latest assignment. “There’s no written agreement. No money exchanged hands. How often can you say that these days?”
McKay will be in the studio every evening with NBC anchor Bob Costas in Salt Lake City. Said Costas, who has a nice sense of sporting history: “It will be like being transported back to the 1950s and getting to broadcast [baseball] with Red Barber or Mel Allen. Jim defined the craft, defined this assignment.”
Amen, brother. And welcome back, brother Jim.
Question of the day (with apologies to Duane Thomas): If the Super Bowl is so super, how come there will be another one next year?
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
A lot of people at the Salt Lake Olympics will have a chip on their shoulders. Some may be chips off the old block. Still others will let the chips fall where they may. And we can only hope that nobody cashes in his chips.
This revoltin’ state of affairs came about through a delivery mixup last week that left Olympic organizers with 27,146 cases of corn chips rather than the 584 that were ordered. Calories and cholesterol, anyone?
In a whopping understatement, Don Pritchard, the food service director for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, said, “We have a lot of chips.” If you’re counting, the haul adds up to more than 1.3 million of the 3/4-ounce bags. Understandably, Pritchard said he will be searching for every opportunity to “pass out some chips.”
Organizers have made arrangements to give away excess food on a daily basis to the Utah Food Bank, which seems like a reasonable solution except that as we all know, snack food is not very nutritious. Nice try, though.
Let us pray
Can you imagine the NFL or Fox and CBS delaying the start of an important game because it interfered with church services? Of course not, but that’s exactly what happened in Liverpool, England, which gave us the Beatles among other things.
St. Lukes the Evangelist church is next to Everton’s Goodison Park, where the kickoff of the fifth-round game between Everton and Crewe Alexandra in the Football Association Cup was scheduled for 1 p.m. on Feb. 17. The Rev. Harry Ross, St. Lukes’ vicar, asked for the match to be put back by 30 minutes so his parishioners could leave the church safely.
What’s more, the BBC, which has TV rights to the match, agreed to the request.
We probably should mention that Ross is Everton’s club chaplain, which may or may not have been a factor.
News item: New Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange last Monday.
Comment: Does that mean the Dow Jones Industrial Average backflipped sharply?
Fox TV football analyst John Madden, on the start of his TV partnership with Pat Summerall 21 years ago: “I was just trying to stay afloat, just trying to learn what I was supposed to do, figuring out the TV business as it related to football. In life, there are floaters and sinkers. I’m a floater.”
Sugar Ray Leonard, on why he has become a boxing promoter: “I really want to bring some pride back to the sport, put some integrity back and bring some money back to the fighters because boxers should be the beneficiaries of the sport.”
Temple basketball coach John Chaney, on the Owls’ losing record: “It’s the [darndest] year I’ve ever been involved in in my life. Four starters have been hurt, and David Hawkins missed the first month of the season. It’s been like that all year. It hurts most on defense. This is the worst defense we’ve ever played. I don’t know how I’ve stood up to handle this.”