Sportscasting Legend McKay Dies

Jun 7, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Symbolizing an era of sports with “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” legendary sportscaster Jim McKay died Saturday of natural causes on his farm in Maryland. He was 86.
As host of “Wide World of Sports” for more than four decades, Mr. McKay covered 12 Olympics and was the first sportscaster in history to win an Emmy Award.
Mr. McKay was the father of CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus.
“There are not many men who achieved what Jim McKay achieved both professionally and personally,” said Mr. McManus. “He had a flawless reputation and was a legendary figure in the history of sports television. However, with all his achievements, the most important thing in his life was his family.”
Mr. McKay was the broadcasting anchor at the 1972 Munich Olympics when news broke worldwide that Palestinian terrorists had kidnapped 11 Israeli athletes. And it was he who was charged with informing Americans that a commando raid to rescue the athletes had ended in tragedy. Mr. McKay manned the studio for 16 hours straight while Peter Jennings and Howard Cosell reported from the field.
His work had a clear and significant influence on personalities throughout the sportscasting industry.
“He was the personification of class and style,” said Al Michaels. “There has never been a more respected individual in the business, and deservedly so. His love for life could only be matched by his love for [his wife], Margaret. His enthusiasm permeated every event he covered and thus
always made it far more interesting. I always thought of him as a favorite teacher. He was so into whatever it was he was doing that he drew you into every event he covered.”
“Jim McKay was a singular broadcaster,” said Bob Costas. “He brought a reporter’s eye, a literate touch and, above all, a personal humanity to every assignment. He had a combination of qualities seldom seen in the history of the medium, not just sports.”
Mr. McKay won 13 Emmy Awards during his long career, and in 1990 was the recipient of the first Lifetime Achievement in Sports award from the TV Academy.
In recent years, Mr. McKay worked with Mr. Costas on NBC’s broadcast of the 2002 Winter Olympics from Salt Lake City; he also wrote and narrated a documentary about himself for HBO.
“There are no superlatives that can adequately honor Jim McKay,” said ESPN and ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer. “He meant so much to so many people. He was a founding father of sports television, one of the most respected commentators in the history of broadcasting and journalism.”
“He was truly the most respected and admired sportscaster of his generation, and defined how the stories of sports can and should be covered,” said Dick Ebersol, chairman, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics.
“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,” Mr. Ebersol added. “He was the best husband to his wife, an extraordinary father to his own children and, for all of us who had the privilege to grow up around him as boys, he helped shape us into men.”
Mr. McKay is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years, Margaret Dempsey, son Sean, a daughter, Mary Guba, of Sparks, Md., and three grandchildren.
(Editor: Horowitz)


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