An Appreciation: 30 for 30’s June 17, 1994

The infamous OJ Simpson White Bronco Chase from ESPN's 30 for 30 doc June 17, 1994.
30 for 30: June 17, 1994 (Photo: Brett Morgen / ESPN)

Even if you aren’t a sports fan, you probably remember where you were 20 years ago today as a white Ford Bronco tried to evade police in Los Angeles.

Even if you aren’t a sports fan, you probably remember where you were 20 years ago today as a white Ford Bronco tried to evade police in Los Angeles. However, that was not the only event to happen in the world of sports on June 17, 1994, as told in the 30 for 30 documentary by Brett Morgen commissioned by ESPN. Here are the headlines that were competing for the top of the sports page that day:

  • Arnold Palmer1 played his final round of his final US Open.
  • The United States hosts its first World Cup game in Chicago.
  • The New York Rangers celebrate their first Stanley Cup victory since 1940 with a parade in New York City.
  • A win for the New York Knicks gave the team a 3-2 lead over the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals.2
  • Negotiations between Major League Baseball players and the owners continued to falter, with MLB Players Association rep Donald Fehr leading the charge.
  • O.J. Simpson led Los Angeles area police in a car chase as he was investigated for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

What makes this documentary so haunting is its structure. No narrator is used, no interviews are conducted. The entire story is told through the splicing of live coverage and news clips, hopscotching across the country as events unfold. I’m not sure there has been a year since 1994 that had as many compelling sports stories—this was also the year of Tonya and Nancy—and this edition of ESPN’s documentary series is probably the strongest of the bunch. Even if you are not sports-oriented, this should be required viewing for anyone interested in television and mass media.

30 for 30: June 17th, 1994 is available for streaming on Netflix. An encore presentation will air tonight on ESPN Classic at 8pm Eastern.

  1. of lemonade and ice tea fame?  
  2. The Rockets eventually won the title.  

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About Mike McComb 656 Articles
Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it "TV Camp." After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv
  • Aaron Mucciolo

    Yes, that Arnold Palmer.

    Also, I thought this was a perfectly fine installment of the 30 for 30 series (a great concept, and generally great addition to the TV lineup, btw) – until the closing moments of the episode with the footage of people stopping their cars on freeway overpasses to spectate the Bronco’s path. That tied the media angle together so, so well.