Monday, September 3, 2012

ABC coverage of USA track controversies in 1972 Olympics

The USA Track Controversy episode in the great ESPN Classic series on the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics focused on the following events:
  • sprinters Rey Robinson and Eddie Hart missing their 100m heats because the USA track coaches were using an outdated time schedule
  • the controversial podium demonstration by 400m gold medalist Vince Matthews and silver medalist Wayne Collett during the playing of the national anthem
  • Jim Ryun being tripped in a 1500m qualifying heat and failing to advance in that event
The highlights of the episode are the original ABC interviews by Howard Cosell, specifically the famous one he conducted with USA sprint coach Stan Wright who accepted responsibility for the 100m time schedule foulup. This 1-hour show (which will be re-aired a few more times) is well worth DVRing just for this interview alone. At the time, many felt that Cosell was overly harsh during his questioning of Wright.

Say what you want about Cosell as a broadcaster, but the man conducted interesting interviews, was willing to ask probing questions, and always seemed to get the key figures on the air to discuss difficult topics. The episode also included separate interviews that Cosell did with Robinson and Hart and a joint interview that he got with Matthews and Collett.

Jim McKay and Bill Toomey called the 400m races. McKay and Marty Liquori called the 1500m heat. The show also included one 100m heat which McKay called without an analyst.


  1. Hello Jeff, I am Eddie Hart Jr. I have never seen any of these interviews with Howard Cosell and my father, Eddie Hart, Mr. Robinson and the late Mr. Wright. Do you know where or how I can view them? I would love to see them and share them with my dad. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Kind Regards,
    Eddie Hart Jr

    1. Eddie, I DVRed that show and just uploaded it at - the Cosell interview with your dad starts at the 5:22 mark

  2. What was the name of the (30 or 60-minute) track & field TV shows with Bill Toomey as one of the broadcasters - (which televised major track meets on Saturday afternoons in the summer during the early 1970s)?
    I'm trying to find the name of the theme instrumental music that was played at the beginning and end of each broadcast. If you know either and can inform me, it would be much appreciated.

    1. I am not familiar with the show you mentioned, but after doing a bit of research, I believe it may have been an AAU package on CBS which started in 1969. See page 92 of the book "The End of Amateurism in American Track and Field" -