Lest anyone wonder whether Dick Vitale had lost any steam after a month and half on the bench following throat surgery, he went 45 minutes with reporters from around the country and was still going strong when the teleconference was over this afternoon.
Look for a slew of stories in coming days on the 68-year-old lead college hoops analyst for ESPN. Most compelling was his description of saying his first words after a 3 1/2-week medically enforced silence.
He sat with the doctor and his wife, “And the words wouldn’t come,” Vitale said.
He said he was worried that his voice had changed, lost its strength, maybe grown even more raspy.
Finally, the doctor just asked him to count to ten. And the voice that came out was the same one that college basketball fans have been accustomed to on ESPN broadcasts.
I know, Vitale draws some viewers crazy. But he has been great for the game, has widened its appeal and has become its most recognizable national spokesman. His inclusion in the National Basketball Hall of Fame should be a no-brainer.
Vitale’s first game back will be Wednesday night — North Carolina vs. Duke at 9 p.m. Then he’s in Louisville when the Cards play host to Georgetown on Saturday afternoon.
Gary from Louisville writes: “Crawford, your (sic) and (sic) idiot. You bash UofL for its ads during the game, but what about your own newspaper? I can’t find the news for all the ads! How dumb do you have to be to criticize advertising, when that pays your salary. I can’t believe you missed that, you dumb —-.”
Thanks for the new nickname, Gary. I can’t believe you missed this: The Courier-Journal is a private business. It operates for a profit. It pays taxes. U of L athletics is a public, non-profit, educational enterprise that is exempt from paying taxes. There’s a big difference. One debate that is coming in college sports is this — if universities want their athletic departments to become big business, shouldn’t they be subject to the rules (and taxation) of big business? I don’t know. Most still don’t turn a profit. Most are still taking money from their schools’ general funds.
Besides, in this column, I wasn’t so much criticizing the selling of ad space as pointing out just how pervasive it has become, and pointing out that it is changing the nature of the games in the process.
Thanks for the note, and thanks for reading. Feedback is always welcome.