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Special – 1970 To 1979 – The Decade Of Sports In Review – Host Jim McKay


The decade of the 1970’s provided a vast array of outstanding achievements in the world of sports….for this was the decade when the marriage of television and sports began to become a major player in lives of fans all over the world….as the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, ESPN, HBO, USA, WTBS et al) began to fill their weekends (Saturday + Sunday) with sports programs that brought a wide variety of televised live events….including college and pro football, basketball,   

During the 1970’s….. the Olympics took place four times….with Munich, Germany hosting the summer games in 1972….while Sapporo, Japan hosting the winter games in 1972….then Montreal, Canada played host to the 1976 summer games….with Innsbruck, Austria hosting the winter games in 1976. 

The 1972 Summer games became victim to both terrorism and international controversy with ties to the ongoing Cold War situation….as during the games, Palestinian terrorists killed two Israeli athletes and took nine hostages….which after a failed rescue attempt….all the hostages and all but three of terrorists were killed….as we at ImaSportsphile have a poignant video regarding the subject already posted in our Olympics section.  The United States-Soviet Union basketball game was also embroiled in controversy…. as the U.S. basketball Olympic winning streak that began in 1936 was ended by the Soviet Union team’s close victory game….as the U.S. complained about errors in officiating….but the victory by the Soviet Union was upheld. Among the 1972 Summer Olympic highlights was the performance of US swimmer Mark Spitz….who set seven World Records to win a record seven gold medals in one Olympics.  Other notable athletes at the 1972 games were 16-year old USSR gymnast Olga Korbut….whose success in women’s gymnastics earned three gold medals for the Soviet Union….plus British athlete Mary Peters….who took home the gold in the women’s pentathlon.     

The 1976 Summer games in Montreal marked the first time the Olympic games were held in Canada…. where mindful of the tragedy during the 1972 games….security was high….as the Montreal Games            were highlighted by the legendary performance of Romanian female gymnast Nadia Comăneci….when the 14-year-old scored seven perfect 10’s and won 3 gold medals….including the prestigious All Around in women’s gymnastics….whose performance also marked the rise of legendary women’s gymnastics coach Béla Károlyi….who went on to coach the U.S. team in both the 1988 and 1992 summer Olympic games. The 1976 Summer games also featured the strong U.S. boxing team….which consisted of Sugar Ray Leonard, Leon Spinks, Michael Spinks, Leo Randolph and Howard Davis Jr….as this team won five gold medals and was arguably the greatest Olympic boxing team ever.  In wrestling, USA Dan Gable won the gold medal in the 149-pound weight class without having a single point scored against him….while competing with a painful shoulder injury.   

The decade of the 1970’s was highlighted by year as follows:   

1970 – Nijinsky II won the Triple Crown of British Thoroughbred Racing….the Marshall University football team was killed in a plane crash…the NFL and AFL merged to become the 26 team NFL….and Muhammad Ali returned to boxing after a 3.5 year exile for refusing to go into military service during the Vietnam War to defeat Jerry Quarry by a 3rd round TKO.   

1971 – Richard Petty won the Daytona 500 and the NASCAR Championship….Baltimore Colts win Super Bowl V 16 – 13 over Dallas Cowboys….Nebraska Cornhuskers win national championship over LSU Tigers 17 – 12…as UCLA beat Villanova for NCAA men’s basketball championship by a score of 68 – 62….and the Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA Finals 4 – 0 over the Baltimore Bullets….as the Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series in 7 games over the Baltimore Orioles….and Smokin Joe Frazier defeated Muhammad Ali at Madison Square Garden in the 1st of three epic fights.   

1972 – In the first Pittsburgh Steelers playoff game in 25 years, rookie Franco Harris converts a pass into a touchdown in the final seconds of the game on a play that is called the greatest play in NFL history called The Immaculate Reception to beat the Oakland Raiders 13 – 7….when in MLB, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ legendary right fielder, Roberto Clemente, was killed in a plane crash near Puerto Rico while on his way to deliver relief supplies to Nicaraguan earthquake victims….as Canadian hockey player Paul Henderson scored the “goal of the century” to give Canada the win in the first ever Summit Series of Canada vs. USSR hockey showdown.   

1973 – Ajax wins 3rd consecutive European Cup soccer….when in horseracing, Big Red Secretariat, was ridden by Ron Turcotte to the first Triple Crown win in the past 25 years….and tennis provided the original “Battle of the Sexes” with a match between Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs….while O.J. Simpson became the 1st running back in NFL history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a single season….as the Miami Dolphins won a 14 – 7 victory over the Washington Redskins to complete the only perfect unbeaten and untied season in NFL history.   

1974 – Muhammad Ali took on Big George Foreman in The Rumble in the Jungle boxing match in Zaire, Africa….as Gerd “der Bomber” Müller scored his 14th World Cup goal (then a record) as West Germany won the FIFA World Cup….and in MLB, Atlanta Braves OF Hank Aaron breaks Babe Ruth’s long standing career home run record with his 715 blast.   

1975 – the 1st Cricket World Cup was held…..Muhammad Ali beat Joe Frazier in The Thrilla In Manila…. and Brazilian soccer legend Pele came out of retirement to play for the New York Cosmos and brought U.S. Soccer into the American mainstream.

1976 – American Basketball Association merges with the National Basketball Association as the Virginia Squires fold, the Kentucky Colonels and the Spirits of St. Louis are bought out and the remaining teams of the San Antonio Spurs. Denver Nuggets, New York Nets and Indiana Pacers join the NBA….as Romanian gymnast Nadie Comaneci won Female Athlete of the Year….and the man who won Male Athlete of the Year, USA decathlete gold medal winner Bruce Jenner….30 years before he went through a sex change operation and became Caitlyn Jenner.   

1977 – MLB World Series won by the New York Yankees defeat of the Los Angeles Dodger highlighted by the birth of “Mr. October” and the Reggie Bar as Yankee OF Reggie Jackson etched his tall tale of important homeruns….as a horse of a different color, Seattle Slew, was the 10th Triple Crown winning horse in horse racing history ridden by Jean Cruguet….while Guy Lafluer of the Montreal Canadiens wins the Ross  and Hart Trophy and leading the Canadiens to a 4 – 0 crushing of the Boston Bruins in the NHL.. and media mogul Ted Turner skippers Courageous to victory over Australia 4 – 0 to win The Americas’ Cup.    

1978 – Argentina wins FIFA World Cup 3 – 1 after extra time over the Netherlands…. Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds becomes the 13th player in MLB history to collect 3,000 career hits….Leon Spinks defeats Muhammad Ali by decision in 15 rounds to win the world heavyweight title in February….Muhammad Ali reclaims the world’s heavyweight title by decision in their September rematch which made Ali the 1st heavyweight champion to win the title for a 3rd time….and Affirmed won historic battles with Alyudar to become the 11th horse in horse racing history to win theTriple Crown.   

1979 – Opening game of the American Football Bundesliga played between Frankfurter Löwen vs Düsseldorf Panther in the 1st ever league game of American football in Germany….while the German Bowl I was played in November, with the Lowens defeating the Ansbach Grizzlies 14 – 8…while Sugar Ray Leonard won the 1st of his world boxing titles in five different weight categories…and the New York Islanders won their first Stanley Cup….as 1B Willie Stargell led the Pittsburgh Pirates to a comeback victory in the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles after trailing 3 games to 1 after achieving the same feat in the 1925 series.

Nobody covered the world of sports like ABC’s Wide World of Sports program hosted by the one and only Jim McKay….who could make a “game of tiddly-winks” sound like a romantic walk through the park with your favorite gal….for Jim McKay so elegantly and eloquently taught and educated the sports fan about the vast world of sports….which makes this video an absolute treasure in our library….and MUST SEE TV in our opinion.     .


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