I started my journalism “career” on the sports desk of my college newspaper. I produced a high school sports show and I’ve done my share of sports photography and video. I know that sports “guys” are not always thought of as real journalists. Jim McKay was definitely a real journalist.
Those of us old enough to remember, and I barely am, know that McKay was on air during one of the darkest days of sports journalism. McKay had the terrible job of informing the world about the slaughter of Israli athletes during the Munich Olympics in 1972.
I was a very young boy at the time and my father was stationed with the US Army in Neu Ulm about 30 minutes from Munich. In fact we had gone in to the city to see the spectacle and the Army had inexpensive tickets available for soldiers and their families.
That day my father and all military personnel in Europe were put on alert and the next school day we were escorted to and from our homes and schools by armed military police in full combat gear. It was scary for a kid in kindergarten.
But Jim McKay stayed on air through it all with dignity and grace. His calm helped keep panic at bay and he reported the facts as he knew them. His professionalism will be missed.
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