By: Larry Bisagni
Game changers. The term is thrown around quite a bit.
We are into 2015 less than a week, and we have lost two of the game changing giants of our time: Mario Cuomo and Stuart Scott. The former changed the face of New York politics. The latter changed the face of the Worldwide Leader.
It is impossible to write an article about Stuart Scott without acknowledging the obvious. No, not the fact that he was black. That’s too lazy of an observation. John Saunders, Mike Tirico, and Jason Jackson had become staples on ESPN long before Stu.
Stuart Scott gave our soundtrack to sports. The way our generation talked about sports. Not just African-American men.
ALL of us.
Many of us were raised with the know-it-all loudmouth that you wanted to tune out after finding out the results. You know who I am talking about: the middle-aged blowhard sporting the bad comb-over, telling his suburban constituency about how the local team won or lost in very wooden, stoic terms.
Scott didn’t bend those parameters: he put them under the heel of his Prada kicks and straight crushed them.
The way we discuss results, hits, and breathtaking plays. From barbershops, restaurant kitchens, loading docks, college campuses, assembly lines, military barracks and break rooms, he was your boy telling you about Jordan chumping some hapless defender. How the Yankees delivered a pivotal beat-down to an opponent. How a running back okey-doked a linebacker. We all pepper our own catch-phrases into storytelling, and Scott was no different. Rather than shy from it, Scott understood it was core to who he was as a journalist and embraced it.
Scott conveyed his intellect while being able to maintain his vibe of being down. It’s a fine line, people, and not many can pull it off. He could also be the serious, straight face when the story required it. Not many could seamlessly transition from the eye-bulging, Red Bull-energy hype of an OT victory to reporting the death of a beloved sports figure, or allegation involving the arrest of some prominent athlete.
Speaking of dirty laundry, I have never heard a bad story about Stuart Scott. I know he wasn’t perfect, but he was very much a professional. In the two stints I worked for ESPN Radio spanning several years, I too heard the whispers of harassment and chauvinistic culture emitting from Bristol. From the aforementioned Jackson and Tirico to Steve Philips extramarital affairs, accusations against Harold Reynolds, and Chris Berman’s infamous crass remarks, many of us know who the pigs are when the camera isn’t hot. I never heard one about Scott.
Like many people, I’ve thought about Stuart Scott quite a bit over the last few days. How he lived his life, and what he lived for, which was his family, friends, and sports. We all share those core values. It is why Cright , Mari, Mel, Bri,B Nasty, Rob, RJ,Jason ,Botts, Sam, James, Jacob, and every participant here at Nuts and Bolts do what we do. It isn’t about money. It’s because we love this. My late father told me when I broke into this business many moons ago that I had to do this for the love of it, because I would be eating a lot of ramen noodles on my way up the food chain. Stu certainly made quite a bit of coin, but like every other anchor, he started in some small city (in his case, Florence, SC), likely also maintaining a diet of ramen noodles and loving every minute of what he was doing.
Stuart Scott inspired that love and passion in people on many levels. He brought hope to people fighting cancer. He inspired grandmothers, kids in hospitals, young writers trying to develop their style, and countless others. To make it personal for a second, he also inspired a brash Italian-American kid who was marinated and raised with a heavy African-American influence, as well an African-American guy who founded this website.
That folks, is cool.
Cool as the other side of the pillow.
Larry Bisagni is the senior editor and columnist at Nuts and Bolts Sports. Follow him at @lbizzy.