A month ago you lost one of your own in Stuart Scott.
Stuart was clearly far more than a colleague to most of you. He was a friend, a mentor and an inspiration. Far more importantly than any of that, he was a beloved father. Appropriately, you honored him with the Jimmy V Award at the ESPYS, where Stuart made a speech that would have made Jim Valvano proud. It will stand the test of time serving as an inspiration to many for years to come.
After Stuart’s passing, you memorialized and honored him in a way that went beyond what was necessary, but a reflection of how much this man meant to you. It was genuine and welcome. Not just from you, the response from some of the world’s greatest athletes such as Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Tiger Woods… and even the President of the United States, Barack Obama, demonstrates you were not alone in your affection and appreciation for Mr. Scott.
One of the things you admired about him was the way he battled and fought cancer. On the day of his passing, I, along with many others posted this quote from his ESPY Award acceptance speech: “When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.” There is strong meaning, inspiration and truth in those words.
Stuart Scott’s fight is over, but the fight against cancer lives on, and it needs your help. ESPN, you are the worldwide leader in sports, but I am asking you to do more. To be a worldwide leader in the fight against cancer. I am asking you to honor your friend and fight for a cure for cancer as aggressively as Stuart fought cancer for his life.
You see as a society we collectively wait until cancer is in the “red zone” before we fight it with everything we have. Sometimes our defenses will merely bend and cancer will cause significant damage. However, too often our defense does break, and it is too late, game over.
As I don’t have to tell you, sports is a results oriented business. If teams don’t perform, there is scrutiny. A lot of it (Pete Carroll anyone?). Each and every aspect of success and failure is analyzed, and if one group can’t get it done, it doesn’t matter who is a nice guy, or how hard they are trying, sooner or later (often sooner) change comes. New athletes with different abilities, and new coaches with different voices and schemes, are brought in.
The fight for a cure for cancer, (which includes prevention) needs to be a results oriented business. Cancer is the number one killer worldwide and its numbers are projected to grow. Currently 1 in 2 men in America get diagnosed with cancer and 1 in 3 women. Take a moment to take those numbers in. They are staggering. If I was talking to Michael Smith and Jemele Hill I would say those numbers don’t lie. They mean that in all likelihood Stuart Scott is not the last person close to you that will be hit with this dreaded disease. Sadly, far from it.
There are so many other issues in this country that we spend far more time on that pale, absolutely pale in comparison, to the emotional, physical and financial devastation, and loss of life caused by cancer.
It will take brave leaders like you to change the trajectory we are on. Thank you for your efforts with the Jimmy V. Foundation, but I am going to ask you to do a bit more…
In truth ESPN, I’m not going to ask you to do much, but here goes:
1 – Read and sign this petition to implore congress to hold televised hearings into the search for a cure for cancer. You know, the way they did for steroids & PEDs in baseball.
2 – Have your on air, TV and Radio talent, do PSA’s for this petition and or cancer in general. Help recruit as many current star athletes to do the same.
3 – Do a 30 for 30 type of documentary of athletes and their families affected by cancer that also highlight the problems that we all face.
4 – Start an organization in Stuart Scott’s name that serves the multipurpose of raising cancer awareness, helping and supporting those with cancer, and one that serves as a watchdog group to the government, hospitals, and the pharmaceutical industry.
Well maybe the third and fourth one is a tall order. If you don’t like any of the ideas in this letter come up with your own. Your talented, creative, and most importantly you have a voice. A loud one… With many platforms and personalities to broadcast it and make a difference in a fight against a disease that kills more U.S. citizens in a three year span than were lost in all wars we, the United States, have engaged in combined.
Please consider doing something. Thank you for reading this letter. I am truly sorry for your loss.
A grieving son who lost his mother to cancer.