COMMENTARY – I’ve often been asked why I gravitate toward high school sports, rather than the NFL or NBA or the like.
I do like professional sports and college sports is highly entertaining as well. I have grand memories of covering former Utah State great Anthony Calvillo, Washington State star Drew Bledsoe, BYU hoops star Michael Smith and future NFLer Corey Dillon as well as many others. During my career, I have covered USU, BYU, Utah, Washington State, Idaho, Southern Utah and Dixie State and have enjoyed it immensely.
But even with all the excitement of college and professional sports, I’ve always returned to the preps. High school sports, to me, represents the purity of sports. The players are skilled enough to make the competition compelling and exciting. But, for the most part, they have not become soiled by the win-at-all-costs attitudes of sport’s higher levels.
One of the most perfect examples of this was a hard-driving running back named Brian Scott. I had the chance to interview Brian on several occasions. On every one of these occasions, it was after a practice or a game, so the young man had just given his trademark 100-percent effort for a minimum of two hours and should have been exhausted. In fact, I’m sure he was very tired, as well as bruised and sore.
But, as those who know Brian will tell you, he never stopped smiling. Despite his fatigue, he was lively, upbeat, optimistic, respectful and funny. Those are all traits that didn’t necessarily fit with his on-field persona. Between the lines in football, and in the circle in wrestling, Brian was intense, relentless, fearless, determined and even ferocious.
“Brian, he’s just different than the rest of us,” said Kenny Scott, Brian’s older brother. “He’s always so positive and has a smile on his face.”
Just like in football, where he helped lead the Hurricane Tigers to a perfect season last year, and in wrestling, where he won three straight state championships, Brian is in a tough battle right now. Just over a week ago, doctors revealed to Brian and his family that he had acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).
Brian had already accepted a mission call to Uruguay and was less than a month away from leaving for his LDS mission to the South American country. He had signed to play football at Southern Utah University and the Thunderbirds had promised his scholarship would be there waiting for him after his mission.
Now mission plans, football plans and life plans are on hold. Brian has a new opponent to tackle. And if his past is any indication, he will beat this opponent as well.
“If anybody can do it, Brian definitely can,” Kenny Scott said. “We’re trying not to be sad, because he’s not sad. He’s so upbeat. I call him or visit him (Brian is in Salt Lake City’s Primary Children’s Medical Center), and he’s just hanging out in his room, playing guitar. Everyone’s trying to be pretty positive. There’s not much we can do but sit and wait and pray.”
There are certainly some hard questions that need to be answered. How did he get this horrible type of blood and bone marrow cancer?
“Just bad luck, I guess,” Kenny said. “No one in our family has had any kind of cancer, going back a long way.”
What is treatment like?
“This is the fastest-growing type of leukemia,” Kenny said. “They took him for (chemotherapy) treatment right away.”
And the biggest question of all. Will Brian beat AML?
“It is curable, but then nothing’s for sure,” Kenny said. “It would have to go in remission. And it would have to stay in remission for at least a year before he could go on with life, like a mission or even football.”
Sports get a lot of flack sometimes. Sure, there are scandals and way-too-competitive coaches and parents.
But sports also teaches us that underdogs sometimes win. Sports teaches us that with the right amount of effort, preparation and dedication, anything is possible.
Brian Scott embodied those very concepts on the wrestling mats and on the football field. Anyone who ever tried to tackle or pin him knows that.
Like the dozens of wrestling opponents and the hundreds of tacklers all left in the wake of Brian Scott’s focus, AML will not beat him.
He will come through it all, and do it with a smile on his face.
Andy Griffin is a sports commentator. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Copyright 2012 St. George News.