“Sportschau” pioneer Ernst Huberty is dead. As reported by the West German Broadcasting Corporation (WDR), the television journalist and football commentator died on Monday at the age of 96.
“We sadly say goodbye to Ernst Huberty. As “Mr. Sportschau”, as the audience affectionately called him, was the first moderator to have a decisive influence on this show: pleasantly calm and with great seriousness. Ernst Huberty will always be remembered not only as the presenter of the “Sportschau” but also as a sports reporter legend,” explained WDR director Tom Buhrow.
On June 4, 1961, Ernst Huberty moderated the first “sports show” on ARD and was its face for 21 years until 1982. He also remained in the memory of many television viewers through his comments.
Significantly, his most famous reporter words are “Schnellinger of all people”. That was in 1970, when Karl-Heinz Schnellinger scored the equalizer in the 90th minute in the World Cup semi-final against Italy – he of all people, who had been playing in Italy for years. Huberty didn’t shout that out. He just said it.
Born in Trier, son of a Luxembourger, Werner Höfer (“The International Morning Shop”) brought him to WDR in the late 1950s and was involved in the “Sports Show” that started in 1961 from the start. He was the man who hosted the very first “sports show” on June 4, 1961. The Bundesliga was founded two years later.
Initially, the film material had to be driven from the stadiums to the broadcaster in Cologne by motorcycle couriers. The clubs paid money for it as a thank you – not the other way around. In the 1970s, the “Sportschau” was a cult. Up to 15 million viewers tuned in each time. The Saturday ritual for millions of young German hopefuls looked like this at the time: First, the football field. Second, “sports show”. Third bath.
Then came the deep fall in 1982: Because of an expenses affair, Huberty was dismissed as WDR sports director and banished to the third program. Others would have been bitter, but not him. Ten years later he said in retrospect: “The bottom line is that I’ve learned a lot in my life and that I had to change my mind completely, (had to) do a completely different job in this house, and it did me a lot of good was tremendously important for my whole life.” Up to the age of 87 he was still training moderators.
In 2017, Huberty was asked in the WDR film by today’s “Sportschau” boss Steffen Simon whether he was afraid of death. “Not really,” was the laconic reply. Perhaps, thanks to modern medicine, he will live a little longer. “We’ll see.” To then correct himself: “I don’t. You will see.”