Stuart Scott: Will there ever be another sports anchor like him?
The passing of ESPN's Stuart Scott prompts an outpouring of memorials and honors from the sporting world, especially the athletes who he covered.
From a moment of silence before his alma mater University of North Carolina Tar Heels tipped off against Notre Dame, to a simple message written on NBA superstar Kevin Durant's sneakers, the athletes, fans, and colleagues have paid homage to Stuart Scott, an ESPN sportscaster who passed away on Sunday.
On Twitter, Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant simply said his words "changed the game."
Game recaps from the local teams were always available on the morning network affiliate newscasts, but Scott made them into highlights as fans have come to know them on SportsCenter. Scott passed away this weekend after battling cancer for a third time and an element of sports on television passed with him. He had an unmistakeable voice and a seemingly endless cache of catch-phrases that changed how we talk about sports, according to Michael Wilbon of ESPN.
I was brought up in a buttoned-up world of traditional journalism where the person reporting/commenting/analyzing didn't call attention to himself. Stuart, very deliberately and without much fear, was in the process of taking us to a new world of sports coverage, one where you let your emotion come pouring out much of the time, where personality would infuse the coverage. It wasn't just that a Scott-delivered story sounded "blacker" -- and it did, it sounded younger, and hipper, had greater edge and connected with an entire population of viewers who had been ignored. Not every reference to music needed to be the Beatles or Rolling Stones, not for those of us who preferred Earth, Wind & Fire or Chuck D. More than anybody working then or now, Stuart Scott changed the very language used to discuss sports every day. He updated it, freshened it, made it more inclusive.
Part of what separated Scott from his contemporaries was that he became every bit as popular as the athletes he was covering. In turn, the memorials to him from across the pro sports world are in many ways unprecedented for a member of the national sports media. The Tar Heels wore a "Stu" patch on their jerseys for the game against Notre Dame.
His image appeared on Jumbotrons across the country. The Boston Celtics' broadcasters used his famous catch-phrases, such as "Booya," on their call of Monday night's game against Charlotte.
NBA legend Michael Jordan, who does not speak up often, felt obligated to release a statement about his fallen Tar Heel friend and sent his condolences to Scott's family. From President Obama, Lebron James to Magic Johnson the reaction to Scott's passing was heartfelt.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver, Harry Douglas summed up what a lot of younger sports fans and younger pros who grew up watching Mr. Scott every morning before school felt in his tweet.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski also tweeted his condolences and added that he and his family still talk about the first time they met Scott. His ESPN colleagues would chalk that up to a testament of the kind of energetic and engaging person Scott was.
Scott was not just another sports anchor – he made himself into a part of the game experience he was presenting to the audience.