Chapter

“What in the Wide, Wide World of Sports is Going on Here?”

Travis Vogan

in ABC Sports

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2018 | ISBN: 9780520292956
Published online May 2019 | e-ISBN: 9780520966260 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520292956.003.0007
“What in the Wide, Wide World of Sports is Going on Here?”

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ABC Sports capitalized on the notoriety it achieved during the 1970s by licensing an eclectic collection of items and producing non-sports programming. Along these lines, the subsidiary demonstrated that it did not need preexisting events to create popular sports television. It developed made-for-television specials, including Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs’s Battle of the Sexes, Evel Knievel’s bone-shattering stunts, and The Superstars, which featured athletes competing in sports outside their areas of expertise. Though commercially successful, these programs were widely belittled as “TrashSports” that degraded the respectability ABC Sports had steadily built. Amid ABC Sports’ investment in TrashSports, the division became embroiled in a scandal surrounding the 1977 United States Boxing Championships, in which elements of the competition were fabricated to ensure its value as a television spectacle. Chapter 6 examines how ABC’s brand extensions and involvement in TrashSports took its sports programming to lengths that no longer necessitated preexisting events, and it uses the controversial boxing championships to investigate the limits to which ABC could manufacture engaging sporting content.

Keywords: TrashSports; branding; Evel Knievel; Billie Jean King; Bobby Riggs; Battle of the Sexes

Chapter.  13663 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Television

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