The ESPYs, Sports Year in Review, and Jimmy V
“Time is not something that can be bought. It cannot be wagered with God. And it is not in endless supply. Time is simply how you live your life.” Craig Sager
About a month ago, the ESPYs — the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly-Awards took place in Los Angeles California. There are certain years in sports which stand-out from the rest. Sometimes its because of the unforgettable moments in a given game or season; moments which make you stand up on your feet shouting in disbelief…moments which leave you speechless in awe…moments you will tell you grandchildren about. And sometimes, its the events outside of the stadium that steal the headlines; the trades, the deaths, the retirements, the comebacks. The 2015/2016 season had both. One could argue that this past year in sports was the greatest in the 21st century, and certainly in my lifetime.
LeBron James superman block marks the greatest comeback ever. (moments which leave you speechless in awe)
Leicester City wins the Premier League defying 5000/1 odds. (moments you will tell your grandchildren about) * My video here:
Jose Bautista’s bat flip to end one of the craziest innings in baseball. (moments which have you shouting in disbelief)
Kevin Durant leaves OKC and joins the Golden State Warriors creating a dream team like no other.
P.K. Subban is traded to the Nashville Predators in one of the dumbest trades in sports history
Paul Pogba becomes the most expensive player ever and returns to Manchester United
Zaevion Dobson — watch this if you haven’t already.
Ok, so enough about my personal opinion on moments of the year. Why am I writing this. Why did I start talking about the ESPYs. And why did I start this article with that quote.
There’s a specific award given at these awards called the Jim Valvano Award for Perseverance also known as the Jimmy V award. Its my favourite award at the event and its given to someone in sports who has “overcome great obstacles through perseverance and determination.” So lets start with who Jim Valvano is. He’s best known for coaching an underdog North Carolina State team to an NCAA championship in 1983 and ecstatically running up and down the court following the win.
He’s probably more famous for his ESPY speech in 1993. A year prior, Jimmy was diagnosed with metastatic bone cancer, and with less than a year left to live, he delivered one of the most memorable speeches of all time.
“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”
Fittingly, Jim’s speech that day made nearly everyone in the audience laugh, think, and cry. The speech also marked the first time ESPN partnered with a coach to create a charitable organization called the The V Foundation for Cancer Research. The organization is committed to honour Jimmy V’s inspiring words — “Don’t give up…don’t ever give up.” Fast forward nearly 15 years and the ESPYs introduced an award on his behalf. Some of the most moving speeches in sports history have come from its recipients.
2014: Stuart “Booyah” Scott. Who is he? Scott basically combined hip-hop and pop-culture with sports in a way that appealed to a younger population. He would quote Tupac, he would quote Shakespeare. He spoke as if he was a fan at home sitting and watching the games on his couch. He entertained us like no sportscaster had ever done before and basically became a celebrity. Some would argue he became just as famous as the athletes he interviewed. But what really set him apart was the type of person he was. Just a quick google search on him and you can see the impact he had on everyone he encountered. He was loved by all those who had the privilege of knowing him. In 2007, Scott was diagnosed with cancer. After a 7 year battle, Scott was awarded the Jimmy V perseverance award and took to the podium to deliver his message. The most powerful line —
““I’m not losing. I’m still here, I’m fighting. I’m not losing. 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.” Stuart Scott
Scott passed away 6 months later. The number of athletes and figures who paid tribute were endless. His speech remains a symbol of hope for so many people around the world.
2016: Craig Sager. Another beloved reporter. Cancer again. And another moving speech which included the words I started this article with.
“Many nights I would stop, pause and go inside the Texas Children’s Hospital. A few feet inside the hallway is this large model train display covered by glass. Now I don’t know why I am so brought to this train set. Perhaps it’s my life coming full circle. Maybe it’s just the kid inside all of us. Or perhaps it’s a few minutes of my life that leukemia can’t take from me. The train takes two minutes and twenty seconds to make a full loop — but what is time really? When you are diagnosed with a terminal disease like cancer, leukemia, your perception of time changes.”
So let’s come full circle. Sports isn’t just about games, championships, or trophies. It’s so much more than that. It’s about inspiration, hope, and, of course, perseverance. Sager tells us that “time is not in endless supply, time is simply how we live our lives.” So what are we going to do with that time, how are we going to live our lives? Are we going to make the most of every second that we have? Maybe we should do what Scott tells us — “Live, live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you.” So lets do exactly that, fight for what you want. Every day people break barriers and every day you can make progress. But you have to fight. And if you fight as hard as you can, Scott is right — People will fight for you, the world will fight for you. The world will conspire in your favour to make what you want a reality.
Jim Valvano passed away 2 months after giving his speech. His tombstone reads: “Take time every day to laugh, to think, to cry.”