Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Jim McKay Leaves this Wide World for Greener Pastures
I was saddened to hear of Jim McKay's passing. For those of you too young to remember him, he was the face and voice of The Wide World of Sports for many years. During that time, he found himself smack dab in the middle of history while reporting on the 1972 Summer Olympics in Germany. 12 Israeli athletes were sequestered for long hours by a group of terrorists, and were eventually assassinated by them. With three words all our hopes and prayers were crushed: "They're all gone."
As with JFK's and RFK's assassinations and the destruction of the Twin Towers on September 11th, 2001, every one of us alive at the time knows that the world's population stopped and held its breath in unison during those grueling hours in '72. We were shocked, horrified, glued to the set, wondering, hoping, praying...
Only one other time -- and it was a happy time -- was the world made captive by a single event: the moon landing. "The Eagle has landed...That's one small step for a man... one giant leap for mankind." Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, three names etched into our collective memory.
Our national and global times are captured in our brains in vivid snapshots (JFK Jr. saluting his father's flag-draped coffin) and sound bites ("They're all gone."). We know where we were (if we were alive) when Pearl Harbor was attacked, when the bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, during VJ Day and D Day (I wasn't alive for these, but my parents spoke of them with the "quiet awe" reserved for only the most powerful of emotions)... The Challenger and Columbia disasters... The Kennedy and King assassinations... Columbine and Oklahoma City... September 11th...
The 1972 Olympics are among those times for baby boomers. And Jim McKay's face and voice are the "synaptic snapshots" (along with hoods and rifles) of that momentous, terrible time.
It's so sad that, in our present times, terrorism has become almost the norm -- no longer as jaw-droppingly alien as it was in the 70's.
We've gone to the moon and almost down the tubes using the same technology in the past fifty years. As advanced as we are scientifically, unless we advance in leaps and bounds relationship-wise with our fellow man across the globe, and decide to "boldly go" forward together (despite our differences and past sufferings), these terrible, terrific technological times may indeed be "the end times."
I'm ready -- and not ready. I have grand-nieces whose lives have barely begun. I'd hate to see them facing worse than we have had to face (and here in America, within our homeland, we have been truly blessed, and have suffered less than almost any other place). I pray that all those with progeny across the globe will think about their own children and grandchildren and elect to stop the madness so that the world all of our children inherit will be relationally superior to the one we live in.
It's up to us. We're the grown-ups. Let's put on our grown-up panties and deal with it, one-on-one. Let's ask ourselves: What can each of us do, every day we wake up, to make the world a little saner, a little safer, and a little more "sacred" (set apart for holy happenings with others) than it is right now?
Jim McKay kept even the wide world of competitive sports sane with his quiet, unbombastic, friendly commentary and demeanor. Quite the feat. I honor him beyond my ability to describe it for that.
And I pray he has Little League and Major League successors as adept, so all participants -- players and fans -- realize that winning isn't everything and that good sportsmanship is what matters, win or lose!