Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wide World of Sports remembered

I'm watching the Olympics right now on NBC. The biathlon is on, a very different type of biathlon than the one I've competed in. In half an hour, women's ice hockey will come on over on the USA network, featuring the USA v. Finland. Later, Finland will play Russia on CNBC.

Or I could watch the Daytona 500 on Fox. In college basketball, I currently have four games to choose from; if I want to be entirely bored, I could check out the Golf Channel. Hooray for cable!

It's probably the ski jumping that put me in mind of ABC's Wide World of Sports - the image of Ukrainian Vinko Bogataj crashing off the ramp will, for sports fans of a certain age, forever represent the "agony of defeat." Back in the day, there were only three networks and sports programming was limited. No Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, or ESPN, yet; no FoxSports, no TNT, no ESPN2 searching for late night material, let alone ESPN8. No Golf Channel or Speed Network. But every Saturday afternoon, Wide World of Sports was there, "spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport." The show was as global as it was various, featuring auto racing, ice skating, soccer, gymnastics, curling, rodeo - almost anything might show up, and it was on WWS that I first marveled at the words "live via satellite" on my tv screen.

Somewhere in those many years that I didn't have television, Wide World of Sports went off the air, undoubtedly because of the rise of cable sports programming, almost a form of patricide. But it was always a Saturday staple in our house and I still get a thrill at the opening theme. So for those, like me, who grew up on Wide World of Sports, here's a delicious bit of nostalgia:

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