Where were you on “June 17th, 1994”?
The latest in ESPN’s amazing “30 for 30” film series takes us to one of the most crazy days in our country’s history. For the unfamiliar, the “30 for 30” series is meant as a way to celebrate ESPN’s 30 years on the air. But the majority of the films shown have been breathtaking documentaries on some of the biggest stories surrounding sports and popular culture of the last three decades.
This film in particular spoke to me on a level that not many films have. Director Brett Morgen, who you may recognize as the man behind the film “The Kid Stays in the Picture”, takes us on a breathtaking look in one of the most storied days in sports. Let me just remind you of all that happened this day.
We begin with the New York Rangers celebrating their Stanley Cup victory with a tickertape parade in Manhattan. We shift to the US Open, where legendary golfer, Arnold Palmer, tees off for his final PGA round ever. Then America welcomes the world as the World Cup opens in Chicago. Later, we see Ken Griffey Jr, tie Babe Ruth as the fastest player to reach thirty home runs in a season. Then New York then plays host to the NBA Finals as the Knicks desperately try to gain a foothold in their series with Houston. On top of all these noteworthy stories, one still stands above the rest, OJ Simpson attempts to flee Police custody with the legendary low speed Bronco chase across California.
Brett does a masterful job in how he presents this information. There are no interviews with notable people, all the footage is taken directly from the events as they are taking place. Remember this is all before the era of 24/7 media coverage we have now. So, we are shown as sports commentators are confused on how to present this massive story to the world. There are awkward moments that none of the local news or, even national commentators, have even witnessed before this moment. We see the fall of one American hero (Simpson) juxtaposed with the emotional fall of another beloved Icon (Palmer). We see America in one of half of the day celebrating sports and unity and in the same day later we all unified with the tragedy that OJ could kill his wife and is actually fleeing from the police.
It airs a few more times on ESPN 2 in the coming weeks, I suggest everyone to see this amazing film. Even if you are not particularly into sports. It is a breathtaking look at the birth of our 24/7 news cycle.
Where was I on June 17th, 1994. I was 9 years old, I was probably spending the day in my room playing a lot of NBA Jam and getting ready to watch the NBA Finals later on (at the time, New York and Houston were two of my favorite basketball teams).
Since I can’t embed a trailer or find one for that matter, here is the link to the “June 17th, 1994” page at ESPN.