For those of you not familiar with it, ABC's Wide World of Sports was a sports anthology series that ran on ABC. It began in 1961 and ran all the way until 1998.
Wide World Of Sports would feature coverage of sporting events from around the world. While all the usual popular sports were featued, Football, Baseball, Boxing and so forth, it also would feature a lot of sports and competitions not normally seen on television such as curling, rattlesnake hunting, badmitton, firefighter competitions... the list really does go on and on. I think I could spend all day mentioning the various events covered in their over 40 years on television.
But one of the things it is most remembered for is being the original home to the Harlem Globetrotters and Washington Generals long standing feud.
Starting in 1973 the Wide World of Sports began airing games on January taped somewhere in the world for most years until 1991. Most people know the Washington Generals games against the Globetrotters often use some of the same tricks, so if you were to watch them back to back these days they would look kind of repetitive at times. But in an age before VCR's when watching one of these games was truly a special occasion, once a year was just enough time to keep their signature tricks from ever getting old.
I still remember watching The Washington Generals take on the globetrotters on the Saturdays of my youth. It is some of my favorite memories of the Generals.
Wide World of Sports was cancelled in 1998, but not before becoming part of television Americana and helping launch the Generals and Globetrotters to that same level.
ESPN2 looks prime to once more continue the annual Generals vs Globetrotter games, from appropriately the Wide World of Sports complex. Here is hoping they can bring the same magic and nostalgia to a new generation.
Below are a list of the air dates for the Washington Generals/Harlem Globetrotters games.
- January 13, 1973 - The Washington Generals and Harlem Globetrotters debut on Wide World of Sports
- January 6, 1974 - The Generals take on the Globetrotters in London
- January 26, 1976 - The Washington Generals take on the Harlem Globetrotters in the Attica Correctional Facility
- January 14, 1979- The Generals take on the Globetrotters in the fifth highest rated episode in the shows history
- January 17, 1981 - An episode titles "The Harlem Globetrotters Go Hollywood" has the Generals take on the Trotters in Hollywood, CA
- January 16, 1982 - The Generals take on the Globetrotters at Walt Disney World
- January 22, 1983 - The Generals face off against the Globetrotters in New York, NY
- January 7, 1984 - The Generals and the Globetrotters play in Hong Kong
- February 16, 1985 - The teams face off in New Orleans, LA
- January 11, 1986 - The Generals and the Globetrotters square off in Kansas City, KS
- January 10, 1987 - The Washington Generals face the Harlem Globetrotters in one of their few live televised games once more from Kansas City, KS
- January 2, 1988 - The teams face off in West Beriln
- January 28, 1989 - The Generals and the Globetrotters go down under in Sydney, Australia
- January 13, 1990 - The Washington Generals face the Harlem Globetrotters in Paradise Island in the Bahamas.
- February 2, 1991 - The Generals face the Globetrotters for the last time on Wide World of Sports at Disney MGM Studios
- May 22, 1993 - The Harlem Globetrotters make an appearance in a retrospective episode.