I wasn’t going to post anything until tomorrow, but when I read the headline about the loss of Stuart Scott, I had to gather my thoughts, and now express them.
I will assume you have all heard many of his signature calls from ESPN over the years;
“Cool as the other side of the pillow!”
“Like gravy on a biscuit, he’s on a roll”
He expertly and enthusiastically embedded hip-hop vernacular and it’s sensibility into sports highlights and commentary. When I first became aware of him in 1993, I felt as if he were speaking for, and to me. Who was I? I was a part of the hip-hop generation. I grew up with P.E, Run-DMC, L.L Cool J, and countless others from the golden age of hip-hop, and here was this brotha, who not only knew about them, but quoted them. I couldn’t tell you how cool it was–and how different it was. Stuart Scott injected ESPN with flavor.
He did it while taking much criticism, and even received death threats. You see, Scott was too hip, too brash, too animated, and yes..too black. But he was also articulate, always prepared, and fearless–both on camera and off. It’s amazing when you think about it. He was a true superstar even among a roster of superstar sportscasters at ESPN. Check out this lineup; Olbermann, Eisen, Patrick, Berman etc. Stuart Scott was arguably the best known of that team. I would suggest that he was as much a part of pop culture as the rappers that he often referenced.
I’ve seen some comparisons drawn to legendary CBS newsman Ed Bradley (Remember how he rocked one earring?). I would have to say that it is a fair one, in that he was unmistakably cool, different, and so unapologetically black in the too often conservative, staid, and vanilla television world. Both of these guys were blazing trails while staying on beat; Bradley in 5/4 time (jazz), and Scott in 4/4 time (hip-hop).
One can see how he’s influenced sports television in the countless imitators who followed him—many of them are painfully inadequate. But you can’t make diamonds in a lab; it’s still going to be cubic zirconia.
Stuart Scott fought the cancer that eventually claimed him today with the vigor, spirit, and coolness that defined him as an on camera personality.
I think Cris Carter summed it up this morning on NFL Countdown.
“There is no next man up. There will never be another Stuart Scott.”
And he’s right, as long as people are afraid to do what Scott did, and be different from what came before him–there won’t be.
Much like the late Ralph Wiley, Scott influences me in this way; I dare to be different, think differently, and embrace what others just can’t bring themselves to do. I’m sure there are many others who feel the same way, and I would argue that this will be a part of Stuart Scott’s legacy. And judging by the outpouring of love and respect today, I say, it is a legacy worth having.
R.I.P, brotha. Job well done.
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