Sunday, January 11, 2015

Cooler than the other side of the pillow

Posted By on Sun, Jan 11, 2015 at 7:51 AM

click to enlarge S_BUKLEY / SHUTTERSTOCK
  • s_bukley / Shutterstock
Longtime ESPN personality Stuart Scott passed away this past Sunday after a long battle with cancer. In true Scott-fashion, he maintained his composure, positive attitude and funky-fresh demeanor throughout his illness and his career.

When I was a young boy, sports was a segment of the news sandwiched somewhere between the weather and a market report. You waited and watched for statistics, scores and the occasional highlight all delivered in the same manner as local election results and traffic updates. Even at ESPN, the sports fan’s 24-hour haven, the tone maintained was that of a news program with the welcomed deviation of a pop-culture reference or the occasional tongue-in-cheek joke peppered in. Sports news and commentary was a place to be updated and informed — it was a bonus to get a chuckle out of a broadcast.

But that all changed when a young black man by the name of Stuart Scott joined the anchor team at ESPN.

I knew right away that Scott was going to be my guy — he seemed like everybody’s guy. He talked about sports the way young people do amongst their friends. He didn’t explain to you what happened in the ninth inning or the fourth quarter, he shared the experience with you as only a genuine fan could, with a language and cadence previously only found on MTV, movies and street corners. He was loose, exciting and infectious.

The most noticeable transformation to my sports fandom caused by Stuart Scott was the ignition of a passion for basketball where there had previously been no interest. By the time I was born, Los Angeles had stolen my hometown Minneapolis Lakers and won so many championships that the general public had already glazed over the fact there are very few lakes in Southern California. And the Timberwolves were still struggling against all the tripwires of being an expansion team.

I loved hockey, I loved football and I loved baseball — largely because I was taught to love them by friends and family. Stuart Scott taught me how to love basketball. He broke down Vince Carter’s 360-degree dunk, interviewed Michael Jordan in a way I had never seen anyone be interviewed before, and he talked me through thousands of ankle-breaking highlights while I sat mesmerized, building a foundation of knowledge and excitement that has only grown since.

Stuart Scott changed the sports anchor game forever, injecting countless catchphrases into our everyday vocabulary. (I still occasionally yell “Booyah!” when I witness a poster-izing dunk or a towering homerun.) When interviewing the biggest athletes of the day Scott would become chummy with his interviewee immediately, asking the questions we, the fans, wanted to hear the answers to. Stuart Scott bridged the gap between fans and athletes and brought the whole sports world back to Earth.

As a young boy growing up in the nineties, Stuart Scott colored the way I watched the games and molded me into the sports fan that I am today; unapologetic for my passion and excited to be a part of the culture. In his own words, Scott was cooler than the other side of the pillow. For that I owe him a tremendous thank you.

Nic R. Krause was born a cranky, curmudgeon of a child in a Minnesota suburb. He was plucked from the muggy tundra and relocated to Colorado Springs 22 years ago. From intramural jai-alai, to his complicated relationship with the Minnesota Vikings, Nic, plainly stated, is bonkers for sports. Follow him on Twitter @NicRKrause.

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