Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"Aye, aye, Captain!!" Long time track and field announcer and stat guru Scott Davis passes away...

The world of track and field lost a good man Wednesday when long time track and field announcer, statistician and friend of the sport Scott Davis (left, announcing at 2009 NCAA West Regional Cross Country Championships/photo by Paul Merca) passed away Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles.

He was 67.

Davis was the longtime meet director of the Mt. SAC Relays, general secretary of the Association of Track & Field Statisticians, co-founder of the Federation of American Statisticians of Track, and meet announcer for numerous big meets in the United States and around the world, including the Nike Prefontaine Classic, the NCAA Track & Field Championships, and most recently, the IAAF World Junior Track & Field Championships in Moncton, New Brunswick.

It was at the World Juniors last month where he apparently contracted an infection that led to his death.

Over the last decade or so, Davis dealt with years of chemotherapy for several virulent forms of cancer.

Whenever I attended a USA Track & Field convention or track meet anywhere in the world that he was there, you knew what you were in for--a hug or a pat on the back, a story or joke so crude it would make the soles of your running shoes melt, a recollection of a meet or race with a few minor embellishments to get his point across, or an opinion about an aspect of the sport.

As he was the longtime home track & field announcer for the UCLA Bruins, he would always ask me what was going on with the Washington Huskies whenever our paths crossed over the last few years, especially after I became one of the public address announcers at the University of Washington. In turn, I'd have a question on what I can do to be a better track & field public address announcer.

I learned from Davis, among others, that the job of track & field public address announcer requires that you do your homework well before the meet even begins. I also picked up some hints from him on how to call a race when lanes are re-drawn at the last minute and information isn't relayed to you in time.

One of his lasting legacies is the annual USA Track & Field media guide and FAST annual that he's edited for over 30 years.

The annual is one of the most valuable reference guides for media, sports information directors, statisticians, announcers, and hard core fans of the sport, and something that I always travel with when working a meet anywhere in the world. The book, which is nearly 700 pages thick, holds statistical information on a database of over 1000 elite athletes, and biographical information on several hundred runners, jumpers, and throwers.

Courtesy of USA Track & Field, here's a video interview with Scott, conducted at the USA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines in June.

Scott and I last crossed paths at the Harry Jerome Track Classic on July 5th in Burnaby, British Columbia, where he was the public address announcer. Though I had seen him a few days earlier at the Nike Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, he nonetheless greeted me like a long lost fraternity brother, calling me "Captain!", and pulled out a classic story out of the archives that had me howling with laughter while I was editing a video interview with javelin thrower Kara Patterson after her victory.

I told Scott that as soon as I finished uploading the video, I'd start making the drive home to Seattle and hoped to be back by midnight.

After our goodbyes, I told him I'd see him at a meet down the road.

Scott, I will think of you every time I am fortunate enough to announce a track or cross country meet. You are the standard that everyone who announces track & field aspires to be.

Aye, aye, captain!

1 comment:

pjm said...

Well put, Paul. I'm always impressed when someone like Scott, who must have met damn near everyone in the sport over the years, still manages to remember my name when they see me once a year if that, and Scott knew me every time. I'm still finding my way around the hole that's abruptly opened where he used to be.

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