Documentary on Marty Glickman, the 'First Jock Turned Broadcaster' Debuts Tonight
By: The Football Girl | Posted: August 26, 2013
Marty Glickman was a remarkable broadcaster. But to consider him just a broadcaster would be a disservice to a life filled with layers of both greatness and travesty. To that point, Glickman’s story has been thoroughly illuminated by James L. Freedman in the documentary, “Glickman” which debuts tonight at 9PM ET on HBO.
Freedman’s film effectively interweaves three essential elements of Glickman’s life: the world-class athlete; the trailblazing broadcaster, and most emotionally, the Jew who was a public victim of World War II anti-Semitism.
The child of Romanian immigrants, Glickman grew up in New York City where he soon wowed the region with his athleticism and speed as a track and field star and quarterback at James Madison High School in Brooklyn. Thoroughly annihilating all competition, Glickman realized he had Olympic-level speed and thus progressed to the 100-meter Olympic Trials in 1936. In a field that included Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson’s older brother and two superstars from USC, Glickman took fifth. In reality Glickman took third, which would have qualified him for the 100-meter race in Berlin, but after the USC-led track coaches chatted with the judges, Glickman was moved down to fifth, still enough to qualify for the 4x100 relay. Sam Stoller joined Glickman on the relay team as the only Jewish athletes in the United States delegation headed to Berlin.
Still a teenager, Glickman was unaware of the depth of Germany’s disdain for Jews during the Olympic games – especially since Third Reich Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels removed anti-Semitic signage from Berlin just for the Olympic games. But Glickman was hit with a devastating dose of reality when he and Stoller were randomly pulled from the 4x100 team the night before the race without being given any legitimate reason, an edict that Glickman and his teammates believe came from the highest levels.
Throughout the film, Glickman is seen returning to the story of the USC coaches and that atrocious act in 1936. Glickman himself wanted to make sure the world knew what happens to him in hopes that he could prevent another kid’s near realization of a dream from being squashed for societal reasons.
Glickman went on to play football at Syracuse, which spilled into the broadcasting career for which he was most known.
After a couple of late night radio talk show gigs, Glickman started calling sports events of all kinds, but really made his mark when he decided to be “the basketball guy.” He thrived on descriptive detailing; as Bob Costas put it, Glickman mastered “theatre of the mind.”
Photo Credit: HBO
Glickman was more than a voice who called basketball, racing and the NFL; he was a visionary. Glickman brokered the NBA’s first deal with NBC, and eventually went on to become HBO’s first on-air announcer after the network was founded in 1972.
The football elements of Glickman’s layered career include stints calling both Giants and Jets games. He was a New Yorker through and through but his voice and style transcended the five boroughs.
Glickman was also profoundly involved in one of the NFL’s most progressive moments. While a broadcasting coach at NBC, he worked with Gayle Sierens in 1987 in preparation for her moment as the first woman to call an NFL game.
In “Glickman,” Sierens, along with the likes of Costas, Curt Gowdy, Marv Albert and Charley Steiner discuss their deep admiration of Glickman’s talent along with his stewardship of the profession.
“Glickman” is both a personal history and provides insight into a profession which impacts every sports fan. It premieres tonight at 9PM ET on HBO.