It’s easy now, in this modernized, cynical, update-at-every-minute world, to hate ESPN. They represent the over-sensationalism of sport, focused on viewership more than journalism. Entire websites have been built to dissing the Worldwide Leader. Deadspin and Awful Announcing use ESPN faux-pas as regular platforms for discussion and mockery. People blast personalities like Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless for their political-talk-show-style method of sports talk. So I am not special in any way when I say I am not a fan of the network, and haven’t been for quite some time.
I am also not special when I say that in my childhood, ESPN was the only network I ever watched.
I attribute my knowledge and love of sports to weekends of Sportscenter and The Sports Reporters. I could watch the same episode of Sportscenter on repeat three or four times on a Saturday morning, quoting along when I knew a funny line was coming. And among all of the memories I have of those weekends is one man always there, smiling beneath his signature mustache, always ready with a snappy quote and a knowing smirk.
Stuart Scott and Rich Eisen were my educators in sports journalism. They presented sports in a quick, humorous, and understandable way. Scott in particular captured my attention with his great quotables, his laugh, and his effortless style and delivery.
As I grew older, I developed my own sports opinions and began to watch ESPN less and less. But every time I did watch, he was still there, an elder statesman by that time, easily making the change from new-era hip broadcaster to trusted veteran. He more than anyone at ESPN had an effect on me. I laughed harder at his “This is Sportscenter” commercials, thought harder about his opinions and pieces, and cried harder this morning when I learned of his passing.
Stuart Scott will always be an inspiration to me and countless others who want to do nothing more than talk about sports at any given opportunity. I did not know him, nor do I have any personal story like so many of the tributes that I’ve seen this morning. But I have memories of those mid-to-late-90’s broadcasts that made me think “I want to do this one day.” I have always seen him as an inspiration for the craft, and now after his death to cancer I see him as an inspiration to so much more.
Thank you, Stuart Scott, for being the kind of man that people are proud to know, to remember, or even proud to watch work your magic on television for years. Your defeat of cancer in the way you lived your life will always be an inspiration to us all.
Boo-yah, Mr. Scott. Rest in Peace.