I have written before about the monthly sports show called “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” being the best sports show on the air. It is actually a human interest investigative show where sports are just the front. It uses a cadre of great journalists to support the efforts of Gumbel.
On the March, 2023 show, once again Gumbel’s team have highlighted four great stories, a couple of which will have you reaching for the Kleenex. Let me offer a brief summary of each starting with the two tearjerkers:
Chris Snow is a key analyst and advisor to the Calgary Flames professional hockey team. He has long been a user of data to help the team recognize flaws and make improvements and take advantage of their strengths and the other team’s weaknesses. He also has a rare form of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) which has an accelerated impact based on a faulty gene. His father, two uncles and a cousin have all been diagnosed with this and died within a year. With some new medication, Snow is now in year four.
The story is about not only his efforts to continue to be a husband, father and employee, but how his family of four deals with his illness. His wife Kelsie is the greatest of heroes as his caretaker and mother to their two kids, now eight and eleven. While he cannot move his arms, he can still walk for now and speak with difficulty. He plays with his kids who have an adult like understanding of what is going on. What is also scary is he and his wife know that there is a 50% chance of his kids getting this. Kleenex is required.
Tom and Luke Stoltman are or have been called the strongest men in the world. These two Scots are also brothers, with the younger Tom suffering from a form of autism. Yet, the older Luke became a mentor to Tom throughout his life, especially when their mother passed away with cancer. His mother asked of Luke when she died to look after Tom to which he replied “Mom, I got this.” Seeing how wonderful Luke is with Tom is beyond admirable. The affection and respect for him are visible.
Tom and his now wife noted how the regimen of working out and eating to a schedule have been very therapeutic to his autism. Autistic folks prefer rules and regulations as they offer comfort. It calms them down. So, now an autistic man is the strongest man in the world, thanks to his and his brother’s efforts. And, man are they strong just watching what they can lift with strength and agility. Keep the Kleenex box out for this one too.
The other two stories are quite meaningful as well. The Houston Astros were piloted to the baseball World Series title with Dusty Baker at the helm. He has long been considered not only a great player, but a great manager. Yet, being a championship manager has escaped the 73 year old Baker until now. What is also telling is his story travels through Atlanta where he got the opportunity to play with and befriend Henry Aaron, who fought racism to surpass Babe Ruth as the all-time home run hitter. Aaron was a man of quiet dignity, but he looked to move racial relations forward. Baker recalls being in Aaron’s house with Jesse Jackson, Congressman John Lewis, Julian Bond, among others. Seeing how they addressed issues had a calming and informing impact on the previously argumentative Baker. The segment also showed his young son who is now a major league caliber player as he played against his father. When he was four years old, as bat boy for his father’s San Francisco Giants’ team, he almost got run over by a player trying to score who scooped him up to safety.
Finally, the voice of Canadian hockey is a Punjabi Canadian man named Harnarayan Singh, who is a Sikh. Previously, Singh did play by play in Punjabi for people who spoke that language. He was so entertaining, people who could not speak the language listened in. He also invented Punjabi terms that have made it into the English speaking hockey culture, even for opposing teams. Singh has now been promoted to call the games for the network in English for the larger audience. His excitement transitions well to his English call of the games. He has a large following, but does have a few anti-immigrant haters who find fault with him. His story makes you smile as he has an infectious enthusiasm.
Four great stories. Give them a watch. “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.”