Remembering Stuart Scott
At some point in the mid-90s my family got cable television. I don’t know what year it was or how old I was, but I know it was in the summer.
That summer I discovered SportsCenter.
Sure, there was a 24-hour sports channel; I knew that going in. But a show that presented highlights for an hour with only slightly varied dialogue in each airing? That was more than my single-digit aged mind could handle. Actually, it was exactly as much as my single-digit aged mind could handle. I memorized damn-near every word of the show.
Dan Patrick, Keith Olbermann, Rich Eisen, Kenny Mayne and Linda Cohn were on my shortlist of favorite wordsmiths. But Stuart Scott was my poet laureate.
I hung on his every word, and lost in all the Booyas and Other Side of the Pillows was a a depth and poignancy that I hope is not forgotten. I remember watching Scott make baseball, a sport that was as boring when I was a child as it is today, entertaining for brief moments that first magical summer. And I remember explaining SportsCenter to my dad and adding, “And I bet Stuart Scott will talk about football and basketball too when it’s football and basketball season. This SportsCenter show is going to get really good then.”
Stuart Scott didn’t teach me to love sports. That was always there. But he taught me to be entertained by sports. Without his playfully fresh perspective on the world of sports, games would be about winners, losers, points and records. He was instrumental in showing an entire generation of sports fans that it’s OK to lean on sports as an escape, it’s normal to find vast entertainment in the games and there’s no shame in finding inspiration in athletics. Playing the game may be about victory or defeat. But Scott taught clearly that watching sports could be something entirely different.
But even now I’m learning more from Stuart Scott.
As omnipresent as Scott was in the sports world for me and countless peers, I never considered him ground-breaking. To me, he was the most electrifying sports media personality around, and sure there’s some ground-breakingness to all of that, but Stuart Scott was Stuart Scott.
What I didn’t consciously realize until Sunday was that before Stuart Scott there was no Stuart Scott. That may sound naive, but my assumption I suppose had always been that he followed the jovial blueprint left behind by someone else. I presumed he’d perfected a previously solid model. As has been enumerated clearly by those who knew him so well, that wasn’t the case.
Rich Eisen praised Scott for being himself even in the face of adversity. John Skipper, the president of ESPN, an organization known more four its size and clout than its progressive adaptability, praised Scott for bringing a flare the company had not previously seen. Keith Olbermann played the hipster “I knew he was good before he was famous” card by saying his admiration dated back to the launch of ESPN2 in 1993. Cris Carter added that there will never be another Stu.
Stuart Scott will be missed on television. He’ll be missed by his family, his friends and his loved ones. He’ll be missed bout countless others, who like me, felt like they knew him but never did.
That’s all I got/