Stay With Me: Stuart Scott

This morning the sad news came out that longtime ESPN anchor/reporter Stuart Scott had passed away. It took three battles with cancer to claim the man’s 49-year life.

I was not a fan of Stuart Scott behind the Sportscenter anchor desk. Although almost 20 years ago as a young boy I did find him hip and cool with tag team anchor partner Rich Eisen, my enthusiasm for Scott waned as time went by. He became a little too over the top, a little too opinionated, a little too cocky for me. Most of America, however, didn’t share my sentiment as he had thousands of adoring fans.

While I wasn’t impressed with Scott’s work I was blown away with his perseverance and courage. Watching him do his job these last several years was nothing short of inspiring. You didn’t have to be a doctor to see the visibly sick man on the other side of the television screen. Most people, and rightfully so, take a back seat from the public eye once they are stricken with a nasty disease. Scott, working in an industry that is more public than any other, connected with millions of Americans on a nightly basis during the height of his sickness. Mind you again, he fought cancer THREE different times.

This past summer Stuart Scott was given a worthy tribute at the ESPYs as he was presented with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award. The story that chronicled his cancer treatments and his life as a broadcaster dealing with a deadly disease was painstakingly well done. His acceptance speech that followed is already legendary, one that now rests on the same pedestal as the one the man who the award is named for gave many years before him on the same stage. Whether you were a fan of Scott or not, if he didn’t have your respect moments before his ESPYs acceptance speech he surely did after.

During the story on Scott at the 2014 ESPYs the song “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith was used. Because of how powerful that feature was and the heart that was shown, whenever I heard the song afterwards I immediately thought of Stuart Scott. Now that he is gone, that melody will make me think even stronger of him when it is played. You don’t have to love how someone does their job but you should always admire the courage they show. RIP Stuart Scott. Don’t Blink.

Scoring 138 Points

Well the Thanksgiving spirit is definitely in the air. I am back in Spokane at my parents’ house and I am hanging with my brother and that warm feeling of being at home has engulfed me. Because I am enjoying myself so much and because my bro and I are just about to go out, I am not too much into the blogging mood. However, I do want to touch real fast on the big story in sports from last night.

Jack Taylor from Division III Grinnell College scored 138 points last night in 36 minutes as the Fox Squirrels (no joke there) defeated Faith Baptist 179-104. This accomplishment blew up social media last night and was the dominant story this morning on talk radio. By now, pretty much everyone has analyzed the difficulty of such a feat and made known their opinion on what occurred in Iowa last night.

If you are angry about what transpired, please be angry for the right reason. Please, just a couple points.

First off, don’t get upset because a kid shot over a hundred times. In Division III, there are several colleges that run offenses that rely entirely on running up and down the court, cherry picking, mass substituting, and then throwing up shots the second certain players touch the ball. This is not a new concept. In fact, it is a well-established offensive scheme that I have known about since the fifth grade. In these types of offenses, a single player is usually designated as the shooter. The game plan is for that player to take as many shots possible. Listening to Stuart Scott and Stephen A. Smith moan and whine over the lack of team play made me sick. Understand guys, this is not Division I and it is definitely not the NBA. It is an entirely different brand of basketball. In fact, it is team basketball because the other guys have bought into the scheme and have followed it in a way that has made them successful. I mean how obvious is it? Just because certain players don’t produce the scoring surely doesn’t mean that they don’t contribute.

Secondly, don’t get angry at Jack Taylor himself. While I give the media credit for not really jumping on him that much, I got really annoyed with the casual idiot fans who definitely had some choice words and caustic tweets over social media. Don’t penalize the student-athlete for following his coach’s game plan and doing what was asked of him. Taylor executed his coach’s plan, brought his “A” game, and made history. Don’t get on him for showboating, going against unwritten basketball rules, or for trying to make a star out of himself. While in the real world we shouldn’t accept excuses for bad behavior such as “I was just following orders,” in college athletics it is different. You do what the coach tells you…you put complete trust in him. Jack Taylor performed admirably.

Thirdly and finally, if you want to get angry at someone, get angry at the coach. Don’t get angry at him for the system he runs or because of the general fact that he let his player score 138 points, but get upset because he ran up the score and he let his player score 138 points when scoring 138 points was not necessary. Grinnell defeated Faith Baptist 179-104. There is never a need to beat another team by 75 points. In some cases, the talent level between two teams is so large that such a lopsided score might occur but that is after the superior team has subbed out all starters, especially the star player. Jack Taylor had no business staying in that game. Oh, he should have stayed in so he could break the record? Sorry, I don’t buy that. Keeping in a player who is killing the other team for the sake of a record goes against every sports etiquette rule in the book. Complete bush league. You want to say that the point spread differential in the brand of basketball that these two teams engaged in is different than a normal basketball game? Okay, fine, I will give you that. But let’s just say (and I am being very generous) that a two point lead in a regular basketball game is analogous to a one point lead in the run-and-gun type game that many Division III teams engage in…that is still a 37 point lead for Grinnell. Again, absolutely no reason why Jack Taylor should have still been in that game to break the record. I hate running up the score more than anything and that coach should take heat for the way he humiliated Faith Baptist so his kid could capture a record.

I understand that teams at the Division III level will very rarely get the national exposure on ESPN and in Sports Ilustrated that schools at higher levels receive. I get it that these lower level schools have to do extraordinary things, pretty much unheard of things, to garner this type of attention but you can’t sacrifice the integrity of the game to receive it. After all, players AND coaches who are at that level to begin with should know that they are participating for the love of the game rather than for the offhand chance that they will get a couple seconds on Sportscenter. Congrats to Jack Taylor, shame on coach David Arseneault. Don’t Blink.