SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Brief Thoughts on the Late Jim McKay

Jim McKay, who died over a week ago, was one of the best sportscasters ever, had few peers, and, yes, no one now compares to him.

There are a few reasons for this assessment.

First, sports on TV were much more rare when McKay was on the air than they are now. So McKay was our teacher, our tour guide, and, yes, our magician, delivering all sorts of magical experiences that we take for granted today. He was wise, he was deferential, and along with Jack Whitaker was a wise and humble storyteller. The omnipresence of sports today takes away the special quality that sports on TV had three decades ago. Sports are no longer a precious TV luxury; they're a commodity. As such, even the best hosts and commentators are at the top of a commodity class and aren't really specialty items. For example, for those who remember Jim McKay, sports personalities such as Jim Nantz don't compare to him. Period.

Second, McKay was wise and humble, never bigger than the sport, not a smartass and never the story. Perhaps the traits of being a gentleman, courteous, wise and humble made him great. But he never acted like he was entitled, never acted like he was special or bigger than the story. And that's what we liked about him.

There are many sports shows today and many hosts, but all continue to operate under the large shadow that Jim McKay cast.

The sports world lost a giant earlier this month.

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