Sunday, January 11, 2015

Stuart Scott: Laugh, Think, Cry

For my 2015 New Year's Resolution, I borrowed from the American poet and essayist David Thoreau. In his poem Success, he notes the role of laughing often and much in a good life. Indeed. And yet I amended his words. My goal this year is to laugh often and to laugh loudly. 
My niece Grace hamming it up. She bowled
more than a 35. She is 7 yrs old

To laugh loudly is a gift. I believe it should not be fake. It can be surprising to others when our laugh is audible. I love it when people ask me "Are you okay?" because I am laughing so hard. And with this blog posting, I want to extend my gratitude to Stuart Scott for not only his words of wisdom but for making me laugh out loud.

On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, my sister and I took our nieces bowling. I don't think Sarah and I have bowled together since middle school, when we found our way onto a bowling league with our neighbors. I mention that because my sister has some skill. Looking up at her score, she smiled in delight. I responded by telling her "Nice job. I heard on the radio once that the President bowled a 35. The announcers made fun of him saying "you have to try to get a score that low." 

That is exactly my kind of humor. To look at a person, let alone one of the most powerful people in the world and rather than say "he stinks at bowling" we marvel at how hard it was for him to perform a pathetic feat. Bowlers score over the course of 10 frames, which you can multiply by two, given you get two throws per frame. This means that POTUS didn't even average two pins per try. And he's a good athlete....It's true, Mr. President, you have to try to do that.
We all say inappropriate things. In addition to a 35, the #44 said,  “I bowled a 129. It’s like- It was like the Special Olympics.” He uttered those words on "The Tonight Show" ad later apologized for his remarks. Whoops.

But it's one thing to hear about a person's performance and it's another to see it. While watching Stuart Scott's legacy on ESPN, I was struck by a SportsCenter clip. I could have been any given day for the veteran anchor. But, on this day, Scott was commenting on the first pitch thrown by rap star, FiftyCent. 

He said "you have to actually try to be that bad. That's horrid. Again, not as bad as Carl Lewis. At least Fifty can sing. Fifty's a rap mogul. Fifty can rap. Carl Lewis threw that thing down (and his imitation of Lewis here is hilarious)."

As his co-worker asked "Does that compromise his street cred?" replay after replay of Fifty's non-feat is featured in the background.

Scott replied,  "The brothers ain't playing baseball in the street, so he's still got street cred. He just ain't go no baseball cred."

At this point, my laugh is robust. If you haven't seen how bad this throw is, check it out here.
And this prompted me to do what any living, thinking, breathing person would do next. I typed in "Carl Lewis first pitch" into YouTube. What I found was brilliant. The announcer could not have set it up any better. As Lewis walked to the mound, the audience is asked to welcome "nine-time Olympic gold medalist. and world record holder Carl Lewis." I'm thinking to myself, Who else has nine Olympic" And then "that happened." Scott's imitation was perfect. 

In another fit of laughter, I thought Maybe Lewis should have sprinted to the mound? Is it funnier because he missed the throw back from the catcher? And he threw from the base of the pitching mound! It is horrid (thank you Stu).
In the movie "Dead Poet's Society" Mr. Keating tells one of his students "We're not laughing at you, we're laughing near you." I've always loved that line. The truth is of course that we are laughing at you, but it's not in a spirit of ridicule. No, there are some things we should take as part of our humanity. Barack Obama and Carl Lewis have done the unthinkable, but they're no different than any one of us. They have limitations which all too often the public does not see. 

Stuart Scott got to meet both men (I'm not sure about Fifty) and the President paid tribute to him when he passed. The world got to know Scott a little better through the tribute at the 2014 ESPYs as the winner of the Jimmy V Perseverance Award. And I simply want to say "thank you" for making me do what Coach Valvano asked us to do each day: Laugh, Think and Cry. You didn't have to try hard to do that. 

Photo Credits
#44 bowling

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