By T.J. Simers
I don’t know Dick Vitale but then of course I do, just like you.
How could you enjoy sports and not have heard that loud and annoying voice belted out like what he was shouting really mattered.
Hey baby, there’s also the unmistakable aroma of B.S. when he looks into the camera and says, his motivational tip of the day is to “have the three Es in pursuing your goals: Enthusiasm, Energy, Excitement.”
This from an 84-year-old man who can’t afford to lose almost a year of his life, as he just did, while contending with two different forms of cancer. Yeah, the three Es!
He rang the cancer bell proclaiming himself disease less than a year ago, and you might’ve even said to yourself. “I really can’t stand that guy,” only to begrudgingly and maybe privately change your mind to admire his passion for life.
But in all the fanfare surrounding his return behind the microphone, I’m not sure many of us dwelt on what he told Sports Illustrated earlier: “Laying in the hospital after you do your chemo, your family leaves, you’re laying there and thoughts go through your mind. You don’t know if you’re going to see another day. Never mind another basketball game.”
This bit of bad news really bothered me. The guy has given everything he has to be enthusiastic about life, and while not knowing him, I feel for him.
The other day there was a scrawl across the bottom of the TV screen announcing that Vitale would have to undergo two more procedures on his vocal chords this summer. They didn’t say the cancer had returned, but read between the lines.
Sitting there flat on the TV screen like any other announcement, numb initially to its impact like pitcher sent to minors or football player expected back, there is no way to grasp the discomfort, pain and hope for better days ahead for Vitale.
I found myself sitting at the next table to Vitale in the Huddle at Notre Dame years ago, probably there to watch the Irish clobber the Trojans again, and I left Vitale alone. I regret that. If his voice could irritate me, I should have said something stupid.
Vitale has had a remarkable life with a lot more to go. The worst someone can say about him is he’s too loud or his opinion is whacked. He was Stephen A. Smith before Stephen A. was born and I find Stephen A. annoying.
Who cares? What matters now is that Dickie V. has to fight cancer again. And the word “fight,’ is so trite when coupling it with cancer.
Yeah, I know, it happens. I haven’t walked around the cancer ward at Mattel Children’s Hospital recently, but when I did, it was beyond galling to hear a Times’ editor tell me, “It’s not our job to help the misfortunate.” Some community newspaper.
Of course, it is. It always is. The Times did something right, though; they fired that guy. Those kids at Mattel’s had so much life yet to live and those doctors helping them were heroes, who deserved to hear the applause.
Vitale has a lot of life yet to live, too, as an old man, or I better start getting my affairs in order.
The monumental ordeal awaiting Vitale, though, muddies the waters when considering he wrote a book, “Living a Dream,” unless you believe he’ll be ringing that bell again before they tip off the college basketball season.
Dickie V might have been annoying earlier, but now he’s an inspiration and whatever cornpone thing you want to say about that, I would agree.