Jack Craig flew under the radar, but left an indelible mark in sports
The tributes for
But despite the attention on Steinbrenner, I come to remember another sports personality who's death last week was so overshadowed by The Boss'. The deceased was named
Jack Craig was the first critic of sports television.
Late in 1967, Craig's editor at the
Incredibly, though, even as more people watched sports on TV and talked about sports on TV -- and even made
Today, of course, in most major newspapers, the sports TV beat is as obligatory as the betting line. In fact, often the best writer in the sports section is the TV writer. Unlike the legendary columnist, who has to work stadiums and arenas, spend hours in press boxes, and then trudge down to the locker room and try to squeeze an unintelligible quote out of a surly naked athlete, the sports TV guy can just sit on his couch with a clicker in his hand and a disc on his roof and watch stuff right there in his own man cave.
Readers relate to TV sports guys, too, because they're just like them, so the sports television writer is invariably popular, unlike other critics who are looked upon as crabby sourpusses.
It seems impossible to believe that there was ever a time before Jack Craig. It might even be possible to say that sports television is more important than ... sports. When George Steinbrenner died, the Yankee franchise that he had purchased 43 years ago was estimated to be worth $1.6 billion. The Yankee television network that he started hardly eight years ago was estimated to be worth twice that -- $3 billion.