Stuart Scott was different because he was down. It was rare that you saw a "down-ass" African-American man at the SportsCenter host table. By down, I mean Scott was as composed and smooth as his counterparts, but he spoke the language of the subjects, the predominantly African-American athletes. His diglossia transitioned between "standard" and "black" English in a way that flouted the idea that you couldn't go to the top without scorning the language you learned and spoke when you were at the "black" bottom (the "bottom" as an equally relevant cultural realm and not a terminal point on a hierarchy). He conducted energetic, sharp, and casually intelligent interviews that managed to convince you that he and his subjects were "homies" who shared a mutual respect.
I lost my grandmother to cancer. It took her so fast it felt like a blur. Maybe being out of the country this fall has enhanced this feeling, but, to me, it seems like it was just yesterday that he announced he was battling cancer. In reality, it has been about a year, and--sadly--so go these things.
In my twenties, I attempted to write a book of hip-hop-inspired poems--"T.H.U.G.: A Truncated History of Urban Griots." I lost faith in the project and abandoned it. Since, some of the poems have popped up here and there. One of the poems that never surfaced was "Don't Hate the Player"--not quite a tribute, but definitely a gesture to Stuart Scott. It wasn't one of the better poems, but I will post it here in memory of a man who brought a lot of wonder to my young sports fanship.
DON'T HATE THE PLAYER
Scott's never ending attempt to bring a hip-hop flavor (or should I say "flava") to ESPN has done nothing but turn off countless viewers. We don't care if you're African-American. So are many other reporters and they don't make idiots out of themselves and shove their "blackness" down our throats. We also don't care if Michael Jordan is one of your homies.
~Random Cyber-Hater, http://www.carolinasucks.com/stuartscottsucks.htm
When a fifteen foot putt echoes
first Samuel chapter 16 verse 12,
is it hip-hop at play? The lord
said you got to rise up.
highlights seasoned with neck bones,
street salts and Sunday-morning
inflection. Every game and ball
demands its heralds. Men with air
in their soles leap in ways that render
gravity insecure--later hoping to earn
the staple stamp of Booya
on the six o’clock Sports Center.
Got to do better than that player.
Swish five trifectas? You might
garner an it’s getting hot in herre.
Where Dan Patrick will easily give
an en fuego (gringo accent and all)
Stuart Scott will make you work--
for he knows a black star
must shine that much harder
to avoid being charted as a hole.