I was not expecting to cry this morning, but I did, thanks to a podcast episode.
I don’t always listen to ESPN Daily, despite it residing in a filter I titled “Daily Must-Listen” in my podcast app. But through a good headline and an even better description, I found myself curious about the story in a way that I’m often not.
Here’s that description that caught my attention:
You probably saw the video back in 2015. Then-56-year-old Scott Park, standing at half court, fires a shot to potentially win a million dollars at the ACC Tournament…only for it to barely reach the free throw line. it immediately went viral after a reporter posted the footage on Vine (remember Vine?). In true internet fashion, the negative comments piled on. But as our friend Ryan McGee found out and shares with us today, there was so much more to this story than the social media response…it’s about the limits of science, and storytelling…and ourselves.
As a piece of short-form writing, this is just really good stuff.
Then came the episode itself. It’s a little longer than a typical ESPN Daily episode tends to be, but it pays off that extra time so well.
The appeal of the story exists at an intersection of multiple topics: the internet and meme-ification, college basketball (and the current news peg of the ongoing ACC Tournament), an underdog story, big-hearted forgiveness, and so much more.
It is a wonderfully produced podcast episode. The voices feel warm and lived-in, like conversations with your best friends. Ryan McGee’s voice, with its North Carolina inflections, feels familiar to me, as if we all might sound that way, living at that latitudinal band that stretches through Tennessee and North Carolina.
But mostly it’s Scott Park’s voice that sticks with me. It’s the good-natured uptick in it that immediately registers him as a friendly guy, a kind person, a sincere person. I can’t fully explain it, but if you’ve spoken to enough people in your life, you develop a sense for it. I certainly did when I was interviewing people all day, every day, and it’s no different here; Scott Park’s is the voice of a guy you wouldn’t mind striking up a conversation in line at a coffee shop, even when you really didn’t want to talk.
His story is worth telling. It’s a touching and powerful reminder that journalism, even (especially?) sports journalism is about the people; the people are why we connect with stories and would be lost without them. It’s a reminder of how often the internet and memes are devoid of story, how nameless and faceless things become for those of us who’ve spent so much time online that we all understand a sort of shared language.
More that that, it’s just a good listen.