ESPN will not be the same. The world of sports will sound a lot different. Not being able to hear that raspy, baritone voice of longtime ESPN anchor Stuart Scott bellow out his trademark jargon of “booyah” or smoothly state “as cool of the side of the pillow,” are coin phrases we’ll miss from the dynamic trendsetter.
Even the urban vernacular of ” you ain’t got to go home, but you have to get up out of here,” is something different and unique we’ve come to love and adore about Scott. As a student attending Howard University, like many people, I would make it a priority to come home and catch the prime time edition of SportsCenter because I knew Scott was coming on the air.
He was something special. Before Scott came on the air, sports talk shows were sort of boring. You caught the sports highlights, but you didn’t hang around watching the television set listening to a bunch of tired talk show hosts spit out a bunch of numbers you didn’t understand. Scott brought flavor to not only SportsCenter, but to the world of sports as a whole.
There is only one Stuart Scott. And that Stuart Scott hit a home run every time he picked up the microphone to talk to us about what was going down in sports. He related to us. He didn’t talk at us. He spoke to us as if he was our neighbor next door. Scott made us feel welcomed. He invited us to the party when some folks believed we didn’t deserve the opportunity to be there in the first place.
Scott was a gracious host, always smiling, always injecting positive energy that you could feel through your television sets even though he was handling his business in Bristol, Connecticut. Scott transcended the barrier of the conservative sports pilot show to becoming a vehicle where urbanites could relate to what he was talking about.
The pitch, the delivery and the mannerism in which he spoke was Scott’s way of inclusion. He didn’t leave anyone behind standing on the porch with the front door slammed in their faces. He took all of us in and introduced us to a world many of us had not seen before, even at the price of being scorned and rebuked because of being different. Scott was different on so many levels. When he started at ESPN, Scott was a young black man joining the fraternity of a predominantly white sports world giving America a different flow through the way sports was told.
Scott brought swag to SportsCenter, the kind of confidence would not allow him to change who he was. On the air, Scott was all of that and a bag of chips.
But one can only image the type of pushback Scott encountered for being different. We have been blessed because Scott dared to be different. We are fortunate that Scott didn’t give up who he was as a person and as a professional sportscaster because others wanted him to conform to “how things should be done.” God made Scott different. Being different comes with much sacrifice, pain and suffering. I have no idea what kind of challenges Scott went through but I’m sure there were plenty of obstacles he had to overcome.
We are thankful Scott didn’t cave in and tried to be somebody he wasn’t. In my opinion, Scott’s impact on the sports world for future sportscasters of color is no less impactful than when Max Robinson became the first African American news anchor on prime television when he shared the spotlight with Peter Jennings and Frank Reynolds on ABC News “World News Tonight” in 1978.
Seeing Robinson on television changed my life. When I saw this articulate, well-spoken, Afro-wearing black man presenting the news to America, I knew immediately that I wanted to do what Robinson did. I wanted to become a professional journalist. Robinson was that inspiration for me. And I’m quite sure that Scott has influenced a plethora of aspiring journalists to shoot for their dreams as well.
If not for Stuart having a dent in the sports industry as he did, many African Africans or people of color may not have pursued this employment vehicle. He did, though. We are glad he did. He made us better. He made us look at ourselves better and encouraged us to believe that all things are possible. And we are blessed because of it.