Scott, Stuart 1965–
Stuart Scott 1965–
Sports broadcaster Stuart Scott came to prominence at ESPN thanks to a successful combination of originality and hard work. His ability to relate to a younger audience and incorporate their voice into his nightly telecasts found him the favorite of viewers at a rapid pace. Having cut his way to the top of the world’s most prominent sportscasting network, Scott did so with a unique flair, a genuine love for sports, and a distinctive style.
Born July 19, 1965, Scott developed an early interest in sports. Not much of a television watcher growing up, Scott turned to athletics in high school where he ran track and played football. As his college days loomed closer, he was recruited by smaller university football teams, all of which he turned down. Scott had bigger plans. According to a 1998 Sport Magazine article, Scott, “[e]nrolled at North Carolina with dreams of walking onto the varsity team, coming out of nowhere to lead the ACC in receiving, being drafted by the NFL … you know the drill.” These dreams were quickly halted by an eye injury which took Scott off the field permanently. Even though he could no longer play, Scott’s love of sports still drove him, and the next logical choice seemed to be sports broadcasting. “For me, it was just a way to stay close to sports,” he said in a Sports Magazine interview. He graduated in 1987 from the University of North Carolina with a bachelors of arts degree in speech communication and jumped into the broadcasting business.
Early in his career, Scott paid his dues by working in smaller markets before eventually breaking into a major cable media outlet. In an article for Black Enterprise magazine Scott reflected on his early career days, where getting a telecasting job meant wearing many different hats. “After I graduated from college, I tried to play things by the book in terms of landing a job as a sports anchor. I interviewed with about four to five small markets, but I kept getting turned down with the usual ‘you don’t have enough experience for the position.’”
Eventually, Scott secured a position as a news reporter and weekend sports anchor at WPDE-TV in Florence, South Carolina, from 1987 to 1988. For the next two years, he covered news at WRAL-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina, before graduating to WESH-TV in Orlando where he was a sports anchor and reporter from 1990 to 1993. Stuart was honored with a first-place rating
At a Glance…
Born July 1965, in Chicago, IL; married Kimberley; two daughters. Education: University of North Carolina, bachelors of arts in speech communications.
Career: WPDE-TV, Florence, SC, news reporter and weekend sports anchor, 1987-88; WRAL-TV, Raleigh, NC, news reporter, 1988-90; WESH-TV, Orlando, FL, sports reporter and anchor, 1990-93; ESPN, anchor, 1993—,
Address: c/o ESPN Television, ESPN Plaza, Bristol, Connecticut, 06010.
from the Central Florida Press Association for a rodeo feature he did while in Orlando.
Scott soon found that putting in the work in smaller markets eventually paid off. In 1993 ESPN, the largest, most widely recognized sports broadcasting network, often considered the authority on sports news and features, hired Scott for its ESPN2 project. ESPN decision-makers struck gold, as Scott eventually developed into one of the most recognizable sports personalities the network has ever seen.
Scott began burning through the ESPN ranks, eventually landing one of the top spots on the network’s flagship show, ESPN SportCenter, a nightly sports newscast that, by 2002, was entertaining millions of viewers nightly. Scott also anchored SportSmash on ESPN2’s SportsNight as well as the Edge NFL Matchup, a weekly show highlighting select football games for that week. Soon, Scott was seemingly everywhere on the network. He anchored NBA 2 Night, a news and highlight program, as well as ESPN2’s college football edition of SportsNight He teamed with highly visible anchors Chris Berman and Tom Jackson for a Sunday night National Football League highlight show called NFL PrimeTime, in 1997.
Not only was Scott hosting a variety of different ESPN sports programs, he was also becoming one of their top field reporters. By the time he joined SportsCenter Scott had covered Major League Baseball’s playoffs, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Final Four basketball tournament, and the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998. His coverage has also included one-on-one interviews with Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Sammy Sosa, and former President Bill Clinton.
With his broadcasting pedigree in place, Scott’s work spoke for itself. He was tenacious and hard working, but it was his original personality and ability to relay expressive, and sometimes hip vernacular in his sports-casts that made him a fan favorite. According to a Black Enterprise, Scott’s distinctive delivery has brought him to impressive heights. “Seven nights a week, Scott comes into the homes of more than a million viewers with a unique brand of journalism that has prompted fans and colleagues alike to dub him the ‘Hip-Hop Howard Cosell.’”
Scott’s repertoire with the camera was not accidental. His broadcasting style is a mix of serious sports knowledge blended with slang, lyrical content found in hip-hop music, and expressions often heard at house parties of the younger crowd. A player on film completes a vicious slam dunk and Scott punctuated it with a “Boo-yahh!!” Another player goes on a hot scoring streak and Scott identified him as “buttah, because he must be on a roll.” Other Scott expressions include “That must be jam, cuz jelly doesn’t shake like that,” “cool as the other side of the pillow,” and “Like gravy on a biscuit, it’s all good.”
While other markets would frown upon such expressions on its airwaves, ESPN has worked with Scott’s style. ESPN executives weren’t pleased with his style, but they did not stop their young star. Other anchors were also using their own style, drawing references from other forms of pop culture. But ESPN executives were worried that because he was African American, Scott might be a target for a different type of criticism. Scott, however, took this all in stride. Responding to these criticisms in Sport he said, “You’re not going to please everybody. Sometimes I get mail from people who say nasty things. I say well, that’s what they have remote controls for.”
Scott’s enigmatic personality and ability to relate to specific demographics opened other doors in his career. His telecasting was recorded and used in a popular video basketball game. He has made cameo appearances in movies and music videos. But if anyone thinks his style is merely an act, they are mistaken. Scott told Sport that he wants his viewers to look at him and think, “That’s my partner, Stuart. That’s my boy. That’s my buddy. And he’s just telling me what happened last night.’”
Black Enterprise, Sept. 2001, p. 64.
Sport, December 1998, p. 30.
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