Sports punditry is the quintessential human experience, and Stu brought it all to the TV screen every time the camera cut to him, even when it cut away from him to show highlights while he narrated last night’s sports achievements, punctuating them with trademark quips and exclamations. For many years I ate my breakfast and read the news while Stuart Scott lived the perfect human life.
First, there is sports, which, aside from ticket sales, [blog sponsorship name here]’s beer sales, t-shirt sales, and other vending sales [blog sponsorships welcome here], media coverage, security details, maintenance details, parking, and scalping at the site of the sporting event, is meaningless.
Then there is sports punditry, a cloud of ceaseless talking about sports, both on the radio within the local markets and nationally broadcast, and also on the television, broadcast nationally via satellite, first at ESPN, which was Stuart Scott’s home, then growing into innumerable channels, day and night, which media also generate advertising sales, which create staff, who need brick-and-mortar workplaces, maintenance, and vending themselves, a love of all which creates a cycle of love for sports, reciprocating to the paragraph immediately above this one.
Shall we nod in agreement to each other to gently saunter by the political ramifications brought by stadium builds, infrastructure contracting, and monied interests shaking hands nefariously with elected officials, even so far down as to tiny high school athletics, without further discussion? Yes, athletes are worth more than their agents have yet imagined.
In an interview about his particular style of punditry, Stuart Scott remarked that he did not employ his famous quips and exclamations always, at most once per broadcast, revealing a studied professional acumen toward his craft, a respect for his audience, his consumer. His approach was very basic: practice, energy, and love.
“Love for the game” is a phrase attached to sports idols, those who demonstrate a willingness to sacrifice everything to win the game, not only sacrificing the self, but sacrificing with great cheer. Stuart Scott led the way in loving love for the game so that we, his fans, loved him loving love for the game. And so it grew. ESPN is now an empire in no small part because of him.
After all, human existence is in large part living out fantasies and illusions, celebrating growth which will, like Stuart Scott, fade, awaiting the next technological advance, the next cultural progress, exerting effort to lay claim to some sort of meaningfulness in family, work, society, at least a little bit. Unfortunately, the next meaningfulness will be made known after it survives the next big smelting. As Patton quipped famously, “Compared to war, all other human endeavors shrink to insignificance.”
I’m biding time between wars, both hidden, personal wars, and the great outbreaks of human significance, which are sheer and utter destruction, the ashes from which yield something beautiful, flawed and invaluable. Stuart Scott didn’t pretend for one moment that he had anything to contribute, and I, for one, am glad that he did not threaten to become significant. He gave me something to think about in my boredom.
Stuart Scott (d. January 4, 2015), I hope, as you trotted off the field toward that Great Post-Game Press Conference In The Sky, you were greeted by rabidly fanatic angels shaking pompons, shouting your name within a clever, perfunctory rhyme. RIP.