Bringing Culture to Life
When you invest the bulk of your career tuned into the cultural mix of a community as I have at Puente Marketing, you become alert to moments, events and people who raise consciousness or, we might say, stir the melting pot. Stuart Scott, surprisingly to some, was one of those people, which makes his passing significant.
I caught the announcement on Sunday, 01.04.15, as my wife and I were getting ready for church. I actually turned on the TV because I had received a breaking news story on my phone. Of course, I was glued to ESPN for the next half hour. I stood and listened and watched a group of tough, stoic men get choked up as they talked about Stuart Scott and what he meant to them. It was sad to hear the news and see so many of his colleagues, professional players and others in the media look back on how they knew him and how they came to know him. And I watched a replay of the 2014 ESPY’s speech. He delivered his message in the same way he delivered anything he reported on: with conviction, with passion, and with his own style.
What I heard from so many of his colleagues, particularly from his Anglo colleagues, was that Stuart changed forever the way sports and sports-related stories would be delivered to the mass audience. His reporting was infused with his cultural perspective, his lexicon, his style, his catch-phrases, his “Stuisms,” his vibrancy for life and his love for the game. He was transforming sports reporting right before the very eyes of his anchor partners, his bosses, and his audiences. As one of his colleagues, Dan Patrick, said, “He didn’t push the envelope. He bulldozed it.” He was educating them culturally and they looked at him, with something of amazement. They were bewildered. They were curious. They were interested. And some even stunned. They had questions. They were being “cultured,” the Stuart Scott way. He was ESPN’s diversity initiative on steroids.
For 21 years, sports fans of all ethnicities, players, both professional and amateurs, and broadcast professionals, and even Hollywood, have benefited from what Stuart Scott did with sharing his zeal for life via his cultural perspective and life experience. His 21 years with us was one big “Boo-yah” that went beyond sports and well into mainstream culture. He was “as cool as the other side of the pillow.” Stuart Scott said this, “You’ve got to be true to who you are and what you do. I’m more of a hip-hop feel person. Music is how you feel. The younger the mind, that’s how I want to be.” I for one, as a Latino, respected and admired how he shared his culture. I can only imagine how Blacks felt what he delivered and how he delivered it. He created cultural relevance. He made them part of the conversation. Rich Eisen tells a story when he talked about a time in the late 90’s, when he was using Seinfeld references like crazy during his sportscast highlights for his audience to relate to. And Stuart, during a commercial break, looked at him and asked “what was that?” To which Rich replied, “that’s a Seinfeld reference.” And Stuart said, “Geesh. Brothers don’t watch Seinfeld.” And soon after, it seemed like everyone was watching Stuart Scott on ESPN.
Thank you Stuart Scott for bringing some cultural relevance. You not only raised the bar on sports casting, you did so while embracing every one, being intelligent, informative, culturally alert, and, yes, entertaining. He raised the standard for all of us.