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Wide World of Sports 50th Anniversary

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by rmanfredi, Apr 26, 2011.

  1. rmanfredi

    rmanfredi Active Member

    ESPN Classic is basically going all-WWOS this week leading up to the 50th anniversary of the first episode on Friday. For someone like me who grew up on WWOS and can basically directly point to it as the reason I cared about sports in the first place, this is great. Right now, Jim McKay is at the All-American Soap Box Races from 1964. (Earlier, Al Michaels and Jackie Stewart were doing an intro at a pool in Switzerland. Let's just say that Al Michaels might rival Robin Williams for a hair shirt.)

    Watching this makes me wonder if you could relaunch Wide World of Sports again and make it work. I know the common wisdom is that the sports world is so fractured and splintered that the thrill of seeing an unusual sport from around the world doesn't mean the same thing. However, I think the basic concept of the show that carries through is finding the human interest side of sports - any sport - and presenting it in a different way than Xs and Os. My bigger concern is that it would be impossible to do the show now because the tone would be snarky instead of treating the athletes with honest interest.

    If you were going to relaunch WWOS, who would you choose as the host? I know Bill Simmons has suggested Gus Johnson for it before, but that just seems totally wrong - yeah, he'll get "excited" about any sport, but can he connect with the personal side of things? Maybe Rob Stone would work.
  2. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    I could see Bob Costas or Marv Albert as irreverent hosts, but WWOS definitely wouldn't work now. It worked in the 60s and 70s because there wasn't much sports on TV, and satellite technology was new.

    Now, there's a ton of options. It would get totally lost in the shuffle.
  3. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    Throw in all the stuff that was taped and it might be good filler during an (ahem) pro sports strike...
    The thing people forget about WWoS was that its prime years was before the NBA took off in the 80s and owned Sundays and there weren't that many college basketball games on Sundays/it was seen as a regional sport.
    An ultimate WWoS would be the Globetrotters, some cliff diving and ice barrell jumping, some ice motorcycle races and that guy who caught bullets in his teeth.
  4. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    Bottom line: If there was enough of a market for the demolition derbies or barrel-jumping, it already would have a spot in programming on one of the ESPN family of networks.

    In fact, you see this in practice every August -- the Little League World Series.
  5. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    Another staple of WWOS was the previews Howard Cosell would do of the big boxing matches, especially when they involved Ali, then the post-fight show a week or two later, when Cosell would break down the fight in-studio with one, or maybe both, fighters along with him. Alas, we will never see personalities like Ali and Cosell again in sports and broadcasting. And boxing is so fragmented it would take someone as charasmatic and controverial and those two were to cut through all the alphabet soup.
  6. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    I was watching the show last night with some of those Cosell-Ali moments. It should never be forgotten the true affection those two had for each other. Ali fully realized that Cosell helped make him who he is, and Cosell, for all his bluster, realized the same with Muhammad.
  7. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Sirs, Madames,

    Lumberjack contests. Arm-wrestling from Petaluma. Motorcycle racing from the Isle of Man (my favorite). Cliff diving from Acapulco. Joe Frazier going after Ali in studio--"Sit down, Joe," with Ali looking terrified. The worst heavyweight ever to challenge for a title, Brian London, eating the fastest six- or seven-punch combination that Ali ever threw. Gable losing to Larry Owings (just amazing stuff). Superstars (Frazier almost drowning). Weightlifting with Alexeyev.

    Good times.

    YHS, etc
  8. Sam Mills 51

    Sam Mills 51 Well-Known Member

    Between the Superstars and Battle of the Network Stars, there's a lot of fun ABC programming permanently in the rearview mirror. It wasn't elite stuff, but leagues better than "reality" television.
  9. Clerk Typist

    Clerk Typist Guest

    Wide World's on all day long these days (and I don't mean the reruns). ESPN/2/U, Versus, Universal Sports, Speed and GOL pretty much have everything Wide World carried in its heyday. Wide World set the stage for the very wide world have today.
  10. I lived for the Pele clip in the opening montage. It was a fun show and the annual Globetrotters game was a thrill for a 10-year-old. Doubt that kinda show would work today, but it had it's time back in the day for sure. Great opening -- did I mention that? Jim McKay a classic.
  11. mpcincal

    mpcincal Well-Known Member

    We can't go any farther without mentioning the ski jumper wiping out and illustrating every week the "agony of defeat" in the opening credits.
  12. TigerVols

    TigerVols Well-Known Member

    Cliff Diving, Trotters, and especially Evil Kneivel.

    WWoS was the most-watched show of my early childhood.
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