Unforgettable SportsCenter Anchor Stuart Scott Dies at 49
My Sunday morning routine is pretty much down pat at this point. I wake up, I check my social media accounts, then I scour the internet for weird and funny things I can make fun of from the previous week. Two hours later, you have the Powerless Rankings. It’s been that way every week (for the most part) for over a year.
Today, that routine changes. Before I could start writing my rankings, before I had even gotten a list together of worthy entries, I checked Twitter. When I did, the first tweet I saw stopped dead in my tracks. From @SportsCenter, the very thing he made most popular: “We are heartbroken to report that Stuart Scott has died after a long fight with cancer. He was 49.”
I, and anyone else who grew up watching ESPN and SportsCenter, was floored. I knew Scott was sick, and had been battling cancer for years. I just didn’t realize it had gotten so bad so quickly. And now, the world is down one hell of a sports broadcaster.
Watching SportsCenter now is, if anything, a chore. The show’s jumped the shark into 24 hours of LeBron James, people screaming at each other, and reporting crimes. That’s pretty much SportsCenter in a nutshell now. In the 90’s and early-2000’s though? That show was coolest, most important thing on TV, and Stuart Scott was an enormous reason why.
Stuart Scott was, simply, the best. His iconic catchphrases are now part of the vernacular, not just while discussing sports, but in everyday life. “Cool as the other side of the pillow” may be the best phrase of all-time, and you can hear people use it to describe any- and everything. “See, what had happened was…” to describe a play that maybe didn’t go so well is something I still use when caught making a mistake today. And, of course, “Booyah.”
If you were to cut Scott’s legacy down to one, single word, it would be Booyah. The word sums up not only the man himself, but the very culture he created. SportsCenter wasn’t just sports news, it was cool sports news. It was sports news brought to you by a group of guys you’d love to discuss it with over a beer. Scott was part of that classic SportsCenter group – along with guys like Dan Patrick, Rich Eisen, and Scott van Pelt – that you could tell didn’t just report on sports, they loved them. And they loved making other people love them, too.
For myself – and, from what I’ve already seen online, for anyone my age – Stuart Scott was a part of my life, simple as that. Just like the generation above me always looks back with nostalgia at their Saturday morning cartoons, I look back on my before-school hour of SportsCenter. Every day, from the time I was about eight or ten, I would wake up an hour before I had to leave for school, turn on ESPN, and watch SportsCenter. It’s just how my day started. For the vast majority of that time, that meant watching Stuart Scott deliver my sports news, and do so with the type of flair dozens have since tried to replicate, but none have been able to repeat.
Stuart Scott was a different type of sportscaster, and that’s what made him not just special, but quite literally unforgettable. He became bigger than what he was, because he was bigger than it. He wasn’t an anchor on SportsCenter, he was SportsCenter. His words and his voice and his made up catchphrases became so recognizable, so ubiquitous, that even if you didn’t watch sports, you knew Stuart Scott. Even if you didn’t watch him on SportsCenter, you knew the word Booyah. Hell, you’ve probably used the word without even realizing who created it. It may be a cliche, but Stuart Scott transcended his job, transcended his field, and transcended the very institution that made him a household name in the first place.
Obviously, I didn’t know Stuart Scott. I never met the guy, and I don’t have any cool stories about him. Yet when I read about his passing this morning, I felt like I’d lost a friend. Really, it felt like losing an old friend. One you don’t necessarily see much anymore, but someone whose memories fill your childhood. No, I didn’t know Stuart Scott, the man. But Stuart Scott was as big a part of my childhood and my interest in sports as anyone out there. Hell, if not for how cool Stuart Scott made sports, maybe I wouldn’t be writing about them for a living now. I’m going to miss Stuart Scott, because he made everything about sports a little more interesting, a little cooler, a little better. He really was as cool as the other side of the pillow, and there won’t be another one quite like him. Thanks for the memories, Stu. You will be missed.