WATCH: ABC's Wide World of Sports Premiered 60 Years Ago Today

  • On April 29, 1961, ABC premiered Wide World of Sports, a sports anthology series that was a staple of Saturday afternoon television for 37 years, with an opening that famously promised "the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat, the human drama of athletic competition." 

    Above is a 20th anniversary retrospective from 1981 that includes a clip from that very first broadcast, hosted by legendary sportscaster Jim McKay who remained with the show for the entirety of its run. The show was a catch-all for all kinds of athletics, from gymastics to boxing to downhill skiing to relay races to figure skating taking place all over the world, including Soviet Russia or Fidel Castro's Cuba.

    Wide World of Sports ran until 1998, when 24-hour cable sports networks like ESPN, also owned by ABC, gobbled up its content and began to make the program redundant, although the title has continued to be used at times for various weekend sports programming on the network.

    Andy Hunsaker has a head full of sitcom gags and nerd-genre lore, and can be followed @AndyHunsaker if you're into that sort of thing.

    TOPICS: ABC, ABC's Wide World of Sports