Long before ESPN came to dominate the sports television landscape, the weekly catnip for sports enthusiasts was ABC’s Wide World of Sports, with its “thrill of victory and agony of defeat.” Starting Friday ESPN will honor the Wide World of Sports with a week-long, wide-ranging series across ESPN’s many platforms, most notably ESPN Classic, which will air 29 consecutive hours of classic WWOS clips starting Thursday, April 28.
ESPN and ABC are both owned by Disney.
“Two generations of sports fans grew up on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, were introduced to the broad diversity that is sport and will never forget the opening words and visuals that defined its mission,” said John Skipper, ESPN executive president, content. “The legacy of Wide World also lies in the blueprint that became ESPN and lives on in what we do every day, serving fans and a broad range of tastes with innovation.”
Highlights of the series are below. Here is a full listing of programs.
Mon., April 25
7 a.m. Â Arnold Schwarzenegger wins Mr. Olympia, mountain climbing with Bobby Kennedy.
10 p.m. Â A review of daredevil Evel Knievel’s famous motorcycle jumps.
11 p.m. Â Howard Cosell and Muhammad Ali discuss the boxer’s career.
Tue., April 26
9 p.m. Â Displaying the show’s variety, highlights include track & field from Russia, U.S. volleyball in Cuba, gymnastics in China, soap box derby in Akron, Ohio, rattlesnake roundup and cutterhorse racing
11 p.m. Â More with Ali, his 1975 fights w/Chuck Wepner, Ron Lyle and Joe Frazier in the last of their trilogy.
Wed., April 27
8 p.m.Â More from the “constant variety of sports” – hydroplane racing, skateboarding championships and ice boat racing.
Thurs., April 28
9 p.m.Â 1968 Dune Buggy Championships, 1965, ’66 and ’68 Reno Air Races, with a crash by the “Red Baron,” Steve Hinton
11 p.m.Â A series of interviews with Howard Cosell talking to Ali, Wilt Chamberlain, Pete Rozelle, Joe Namath, Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.
Fri., April 29
12 a.m.Â The first Wide World of Sports – Drake Relays and Penn Relays
9 p.m.Â WWOS 30th Anniversary Special, hosted by Jim McKay
10:30 p.m. WWOS 35th Anniversary Special, hosted by Robin Roberts