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Author Topic: Dead sports
Amor de Cosmos
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My father-in-law was a regular on Grandstand'srallycross. It gave regular employment to loads of slightly over-the-hill racers.

The really odd one was Hill-climb. It generally featured blokes in a stripped down MG Midgets gunning it for all they were worth while their wives bounced up and down in the seat beside them.

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Joe Public
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'World Of Sport' used to show Speedway on Ice.

Barry Briggs was great at it, as I recall.

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Reed
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Speedway on ice is still done in Scandanavia, I thought, but that's definitely one of those random things that used to appear only on ABC's Wide World of Sports which, I imagine, is exactly like Grandstand.

It is well remembered for it's intro montage where Jim McKay announced "ABC's Wide World of Sports - Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport; the thrill of victory...and the agony of defeat."

When he said "Thrill of Victory" from 1980 onward, the image was always of the 1980s USA hockey team celebrating, until I think they switched it to Chris Drury (yes, that Chris Drury) celebrating the Little League World Championship. Before 1980, I forget what it was.

BUT...for as long as I've been alive the image shown during "The Agony of Defeat" was the same. It was a clip of an unbelievably horrible ski-jumping accident. It was this Slovenian guy wiping out in 1970. I recalled hearing that he broke both legs, but wiki said he only had a concusion.

Here's a clip of Jim McKay discussing it with Bob Costas.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPk_IZ44DMc&feature=related

He really set the bar for spectacular wipeouts. As kids any bad wreck sled riding or cycling would be compared to that.

I recall reading somewhere that that's the most replayed bit of sports footage ever. I recall that he came to some WWoS anniversay banquet that was on tv and he was treated as a huge celebrity, even though people couldn't remember his name. He was just "that guy who wipes out on Wide World of Sports."

[ 28.02.2008, 23:12: Message edited by: Reed ]

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ursus arctos
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The words in your elipsis are the "the human drama of athletic competition".

What represented the "thrill of victory" before 1980 is going to bug me now. I think that it may have been a racing car crossing the finish line (probably at Indy or Daytona) at some point, but I don't think it was as fixed as it became later.

As I've mentioned before, Wide World of Sports is responsible for my support of Tottenham Hotspur. They showed highlights of the 1967 Cup Final on something like three week delay, and I was hooked.

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Reed
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That's right. I knew I was forgetting something key.

My understanding is that the "thrill of victory" image changed many times, but "the agony of defeat" was the same from 1970 onward.

The Wide World of Sports isn't on anymore. Not as such, at least. With ESPN2 and Vs. and so forth, there's not much need for it.

The World Cup and other major soccer competitions were pretty much only ever shown on WWS as I recall - with commercial interuptions of course.* That tells you something about how far soccer has come in the US. Now, it's still a "minority sport" but back then it was little more than a curiosity on par with elephant polo.


*I have no recollection of NASL on tv except that ESPN did a weekly highlights show in its very early days. I think the Soccer Bowl may have been on WWS as well.

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Rogin the Armchair fan
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Table Tennis hasn't been shown on national television in the UK for about ten years. Even during the last Olympics, it was something Hazel Irvine would show the last point of in the highlights package at 4 in the morning.

I think in the 1970s virtually every middle-class family in the UK had a table tennis table in a shed in their garden. But then every family realised it was a complete and utter waste of fucking time trying to get any rally to last longer than three shots, and gave up.

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Gangster Octopus
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That wasn't proper hill-climbing, John, it was called something like trialling. I'll ask my father as he did it a couple of times.
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Inca
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quote:
Horse racing, boxing and billiards - all dying on their ass (as pro sports, at least) in the USA at the moment.
Was billiards ever thriving as a pro sport in the US?
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The Batebe of Toro Foundation
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quote:
the thrill of victory...and the agony of defeat."
Wu Tang earworm!
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Reed
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I don't know about "thriving" but Minnesota Fats and that other guy, used to play on WWS a lot, it seems. Nowadays, it's on sometimes as counter programming on ESPN when something big is on network TV. But they only ever seem to show the same three or four hot women playing and I've read that it's impossible for a man to make a anything approaching a living at it nowadays whereas that was once not the case.
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Inca
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"They don't call me 'Springfield Fats' just because I'm morbidly obese."
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