ESPN anchor changed the industry
He was one who went against the norm against the tradition of sports broadcasting.
From co-hosting America’s most popular sports highlight show to interviewing the biggest names in the game, Stuart Scott brought a certain charisma and swagger to broadcasting. His outside-the-box approach of using references to pop culture and mixing it with the day’s sports highlights separated him from the rest.
It was risky. It was ballsy. No one was sure this approach would even last past the first telecast.
But what Scott brought to sports journalism when he arrived at ESPN in 1992 changed the industry for the better.
Sure, everyone likes the traditional approach when watching highlights. Some prefer just to have the highlight reel going with a nice, upbeat soundtrack and no need for the sports anchor to tell you what’s going on. You could figure it out for yourself.
Then came this guy.
A cocky, African-American who dreamed as high as anyone could when he helped reshape sports, Scott added a modern flavor to showcasing the highlights and reporting the major events. It was entertaining. It increased ratings for SportsCenter. It turned this daily average sports highlight show into one of the most popular rating magnet on TV.
With phrases like, “Boo-Yah, as cool as the other side of the pillow and just call him butter ’cause he’s on a roll,” Scott’s hip-hop feel with sports appealed to the younger generations and made sports journalism even cooler.
Forget about watching Friends. You could watch a rerun on any other night. SportsCenter was popular, in part, thanks to Scott.
He influenced many in ESPN to adapt to a looser and more entertaining way of bringing sporting news to the public. They can see it in today’s sportscasters, including Scott Van Pelt, who joined ESPN in 2001, and Rich Eisen, who worked at ESPN in the mid-90s before joining the NFL Network in 2003.
While Scott was one of the more recognizable faces in sports journalism, he became a bigger face to a serious issue several years ago.
Scott found out that after an appendectomy in 2007, his appendix was cancerous. He was diagnosed again with cancer in 2011 and most recently in 2013.
After many chemotherapy treatments and surgeries, his time came. The 49-year-old Scott died on Sunday, just five months after giving a memorable speech at the ESPY Awards after accepting the Jimmy V Award for his fight against cancer.
“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live,” Scott said at the award show after going through four surgeries in the week leading up to the event that honors the best in sports.
Sports media continue to evolve with every passing decade. The 90s were a pivotal point in the industry, especially in broadcast when Stuart arrived at ESPN. He changed the face of this medium by giving it a fresher and more appealing look.
While Scott is no longer interjecting today’s pop references with the next LeBron James dunk on SportsCenter, his influence will continue to live on in this country and inspire those who want to dive into broadcasting.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.