It has been 38 years but the voice of Howard Cosell calling, “Down Goes Frazier” still echoes in time. It joins such iconic sports moments as Al Michaels asking “Do you believe in Miracles?!” and Jim McKay announcing to the world “They’re all gone” following the conclusion of the Munich Massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics. Cosell, Michaels, and McKay represent a dying breed in sports journalism. They were journalists whose voices were famous in households across the nation for covering sports in a way that in recent years is becoming harder and harder to come by. They asked the hard questions. Cosell held no punches while interviewing Muhammad Ali about his refusal to go to Vietnam and risked ratings by announcing the death of John Lennon to millions of fans tuned into a Monday Night Football game. McKay was on air for 14 hours straight while covering the events in Munich that summer. These were journalists dedicated to giving the public the important story accurately and appropriately.
Today, networks like ESPN offer 24-hour sports coverage on multiple channels. Newspapers have gone online offering readers the opportunity to get up to the second information. Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook give reporters the ability to instantly relay their thoughts from the field and even offer athletes the potential to break their own stories. Television is loaded with former athletes offering insight into the subtleties of the game. All of this is incredibly convenient and has produced a very intelligent generation of sports fans. However, with the constant flow updating stories and coverage, those iconic moments like Cosell’s or McKay’s have been left behind.
It is the chief challenge of today’s sports journalists to swim against the current and sometimes question what has largely become a fraternity of former superstars. Instead of opinion after opinion of retired players, they need to do some digging and find a story the public wants to hear. If not, concerning classic sports journalists, Jim McKay’s words may ring true again. “They’re all gone.”
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