Stuart Scott, a Figure to Be Missed

Michael Gross At a time when a lot of what we saw, what we heard, and what we watched on ESPN was the same, Stuart Scott was different. As soon as we watched him, the rules, the boundaries, the industry changed. Scott spoke to a new audience – the black, “hip hop” community – that was not well represented by the media. He used phrases like “Booyah!” and “As cool as the other side of the pillow” and made SportsCenter a more welcoming program. As former ESPN anchor Dan Patrick so astutely put it, “He didn’t just push the envelope, he bulldozed right over it.” And, on January 4, 2015, after a seven-year battle with cancer, Stuart Scott passed away. When Mr. Windus entered Latin in 2000, gay marriage was illegal in all fifty states. And, like the black, “hip hop” community, people associated with LGBTQ were not well-represented. Regardless, Jeff took no time to open his arms to everyone at Latin, especially those in the LGBTQ community. As one of the faculty heads of the CAUSE (Creating An Understanding and Safe Environment), Mr. Windus embodied the accepting community that Latin is and will continue to be. Like Scott, Mr. Windus did not follow the rules. At Yale Divinity School, as we learned during the sermon on Saturday, he led protests against those who spoke out against LGBTQ members’ involvement in the church. At Latin, he was never afraid to be direct and to the point; he was never afraid to say things that others would be too afraid to say; and, he was never afraid to be late to a faculty meeting because he was spending precious time with one of his students. Both Stuart Scott and Mr. Windus were very clear about who they wanted to be, and never wavered. They were sparkplugs in their respective communities and paved the way for others to embrace who they were. The day Mr. Windus passed, the senior Writer’s Workshop class hosted a storytelling event with two rules: no notes, and the story must be true. Senior Claudia Johns, an active member of the CAUSE, certainly spoke the truth. She reflected on how instrumental Mr. Windus had been in her time at Latin, how he helped make her who she is today, and how he taught her that it was okay to be open about your sexuality. “Mr. Windus made me feel at home at Latin, and I am forever grateful for that.” Jay Harris, a SportsCenter anchor, felt a special connection to Stuart Scott. “As a black man,” Harris says, “I heard things that I talk about with my other friends who were black, and I felt like I was part of the conversation now, whereas before I wasn’t. That was really cool.” Stuart Scott made it okay for a black man to use a different type of language on air. Like Mr. Windus, he made being different as cool as the other side of the pillow. The losses of both Stuart Scott and Mr. Windus are devastating. They left such an impact on their communities. They changed things, they were not afraid of the rules, and they pushed the human race forward. ESPN, Latin, and the world are better places because of them.  ]]>