Dick Vitale will be inducted into the Hall of Fame tonight.'
And I'm OK with it.
Yeah, I know the guy rubs some people the wrong way with his over-the-top delivery and antics, and I understand why. But there is no denying the television analyst is a relevant figure in college basketball and more prominent than 98 percent of the coaches he trumpets, and if those aren't solid qualifications for enshrinement I'm not sure what is.
Winning lots of games?
Lots of people win lots of games.
Then they retire.
Then somebody replaces them.
Then that somebody wins lots of games, too.
And for the most part it doesn't really matter.
In fact, I bet you can't name 10 of the 20 winningest coaches in history.
You don't even know their names.
But you know Dick Vitale.
You quote him.
You laugh at him.
You might even make fun of him.
But the point is that you are aware of his existence and have been excited when he visits your campus, and he has always played the role of ambassador pretty well. Vitale promotes the sport like few others, and it's a big deal when he attends games. Kids get excited, throw bald wigs on their heads, wave their arms and yell. It's all silly, of course. But it matters and it's fun and it has kept millions entertained over the decades, even if it's now become cliché on some level.
Do I agree with Vitale's thoughts on college basketball?
Do I think he's the best analyst in history?
But I do recognize his contributions to the sport, how his glass-is-half-full approach to everything has helped bring smiles to peoples' faces for years and made otherwise normal games must-attend events. And that approach to life that many roll their eyes at is something I envy, I should tell you. I mean, Vitale seems to genuinely enjoy every day on this planet, and wouldn't we all be better off if we adopted that philosophy?
To be clear, I don't tell you those things to make Vitale's case for the Hall of Fame.
Loving life and making people smile aren't qualifications, per se.
But what I think those things help show is that his "act" isn't really an act at all. Sure, he knows how to drop in an "Awesome, Baby!" and "Diaper Dandy!" at the appropriate times, to the point where you can almost predict their arrivals. But the pure joy you see on television is genuine, best I can tell. And that's why I don't mind Vitale being honored in this way, because anybody who loves something as much as he loves it and has contributed as much as he's contributed can stack honors one after another, far as I'm concerned.
Bottom line, I'm happy for the guy.
I think you should be too.