ABC’s Wide World of Sports is an American sports anthology television program that aired on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) from April 29, 1961 to January 3, 1998….primarily on Saturday afternoons….which was hosted by Jim McKay….with a succession of co-hosts beginning in 1987 ….as the title continued to be used for general sports programs on the network until 2006. In 2007, Wide World of Sports was named by Time on its list of the 100 best television programs of all-time.
Wide World of Sports was the creation of Edgar Scherick through his company, Sports Programs, Inc. After selling his company to ABC….he hired a young Roone Arledge to produce the show. The series’ April 29, 1961 debut telecast featured both the Penn and Drake Relays….as Jim McKay….who hosted the program for most of its history….and Jesse Abramson….the track and field writer for the New York Herald Tribune….broadcast from Franklin Field with Bob Richards as the field reporter….while Jim Simpson called the action from Drake Stadium….with Bill Flemming working the field. During its initial season in the spring and summer of 1961….Wide World of Sports was initially broadcast from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturdays….and beginning in 1962….it was pushed to 5:00 to 6:30 pm….and later to 4:30 to 6:00 pm. Eastern Time to allow ABC affiliates in the Eastern and Central Time Zones to carry local early-evening newscasts.
Wide World of Sports literally opened mainstream television to sports that had never been telecasts before….and was responsible for creating world wide fans for sports like gymnastics, figure skating, auto racing, horse racing, rugby, Australian rules football, speed skating, alpine skiing, sumo wrestling, weightlifting, surfing and so many more sports…for it has truly been “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” in so many fan’s memories…..and we at ImaSportsphile are so happy to have so much of this groundbreaking sports programming in our vintage library.