5 Questions for Jim McKay

by Mark Hale, NY Post

Thirty years ago, Jim McKay earned an Emmy for his reporting of the terror at the Munich Olympics. At a screening of the ABC documentary, "Our Greatest Hopes, Our Worst Fears," which aired September 1, the Post's Mark Hale asked McKay, the 1987 ASA Hall of Fame Inductee, about the day sports' innocence was forever lost.

MH: How did you first learn about the terror?

JM: I was in a sauna when somebody told me that Geoff Mason of ABC Sports was on the phone. Geoff said, "Jim, terrorists have broken into the headquarters of the Israeli team. They've killed one man and they say they're going to kill one every hour. We're on the air in 45 minutes. So get down here."

MH: You had to deliver the news that an American hostage, David Berger, had been killed. What went through your mind, knowing you'd be informing his family?

JM: I had been thinking about that through the 16 hours we were on the air, that eventually I'd have to tell them alive or dead. After I heard, I thought of a line my father had said when I was a kid - "Our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realized." And I said, "Tonight our worst fears have been realized. They're all gone."

MH: The Games resumed after 34 hours. Did you feel that was too soon, too late, just right?

JM: I think it was too soon. Maybe another day or two. But the worst was the statement of Avery Brundage, head of the IOC, at the memorial service. He gave what amounted to a political speech - "The Games will go on. The Olympics will survive." What about the families of those poor men who were killed?

MH: Because of what you went through in Munich, did 9/11 resonate any extra?

JM: My instant reaction was to Munich. But the emotional thing was different because in Munich we had tension, hopes and fears for all those athletes in all different stages.

MH: New York is a finalist for the 2012 Games. Is it time for the Games to come here?

JM: I think it would be great. I think it would be one of the biggest events obviously in the history of New York and the country.