Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Impotent Dick Vitale

January 29, 2003 Columns No Comments

Impotent Dick Vitale

by Michael Ermitage

Dick Vitale considers himself the luckiest man alive. Hugh Hefner may have something to say about that. Although some would say that there is no bigger boob than Dick Vitale.

The hyperactive Vitale has been screaming into your living room since ESPN launched in 1979. He called the first college basketball game ever to air on the network – a DePaul victory against Wisconsin. Since then, he has called nearly 1000 basketball games, both college and professional. And he has transcended the sport. If college hoops were a sitcom, Vitale would be Jerry Seinfeld. But even as successful sitcoms begin to grow tired, so has Vitale’s act. His once-funny high volume alliterations are now impetus to reach for the remote as quickly as possible. His on-air candor and continual promotion of college basketball has grown annoying, like a child repeatedly asking you the same question over and over again.

And the college basketball universe has become everything Vitale. There’s Dick Vitale books, Dick Vitale promotional tapes, Dick Vitale speaking engagements, Dick Vitale impersonation contests, Dick Vitale posters, Dick Vitale gift sets (yes, gift sets), a Dick Vitale segment on Sportscenter, Dick Vitale t-shirts, Dick Vitale hats, Dick Vitale bobbleheads ($12.95) and Dick Vitale cut-out masks. Oh, and of course, there’s a Dick Vitale web site where you can get all the aforementioned Vitale merchandise – called V-Gear, of course.

Lost in all the hoopla, excuse my pun, are the good things about Dick Vitale. Vitale knows his basketball. He was a coach from 1963 to 1979, instructing on every level from junior high through to the pros. He was an excellent high school coach, winning four state sectional championships. As a college coach, he had a winning percentage of .722. His insight into the strategy of the game is spectacular, when it is displayed on telecasts. His feel for the flow of a game is also superb, often sensing a run just before it happens.

But beyond Vitale’s knowledge and insight, he brings legitimate enthusiasm. As over-the-top and farcical Vitale’s enthusiasm has become, it is still obvious that he loves college basketball. And in time, many will point to him as being one of the main reasons college basketball has reached such heights of popularity.

In the midst of traveling cross country, giving inspirational talks and ignoring his Ritalin prescription, Vitale is also quite the philanthropist. His work with the Boys and Girls Club of Sarasota, Fla. has prompted the association to name a building after him as well as induct Vitale into the Sarasota Boys and Girls Club Hall of Fame. I’m not sure who else graces that particular Hall of Fame, but an honor nonetheless. Many are familiar with Vitale and his tireless work with the Jimmy V foundation, started in honor of Vitale’s friend Jim Valvano, who passed away of cancer. That foundation has raised millions for cancer research, thanks much to Vitale’s efforts with the organization.

Furthermore, Vitale finds time to reach out to his fans personally. A journalist friend of mine who was born with a degenerative eye disease wrote to Vitale to share with him his story since both are vision-impaired journalists. I, of course, scoffed at the notion, thinking that me-me-me Vitale would never respond. But he did. He sent autographed copies of his books and included a letter sharing some of his experiences. A real pick me up for a down-on-his-luck college student.

Somewhere through the years, Vitale has become more media machine than man, more talking head than free-thinking mind. There’s a common ground, where the college basketball fan mutes the in-your-face Vitale but keeps an open ear to the educated, well-meaning Vitale. And Dick remembers that not everyone is high-octane, that there’s a proper place for celebration and excitement just as there’s a proper place for criticism and analysis. In Vitale’s own words . . . that would be AWESOME BABY!!!


Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – December 8, 2017

December 8, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a bizarre finish to an early-season tournament game, the Pac-12’s early struggles, Florida teams going in different directions and two northeast teams trending less relevant even as they excite fans at a famous arena.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – November 22, 2017

November 22, 2017 by

In our pre-Thanksgiving podcast, we look at a key injury that is likely to be devastating for his team and an under-the-radar 4-0 week, then move on to some early SEC impressions and a couple of teams that just continue to win.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – November 9, 2017

November 10, 2017 by

The season is almost here, and we take a look at some of what to expect this coming season. We have preseason polls, conference changes, a look at some conferences and some matchups to start the season.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – October 2, 2017

October 2, 2017 by

The FBI has zeroed in on college basketball in a big way, and what has happened may be the beginning of a massive hit to the sport. We discuss what we know thus far in our latest podcast.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – August 17, 2017

August 18, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we check in with some good news from a few teams overseas after a big scare, plus a big addition for a championship contender, a conference on the rise, and a great coach thinking about a return to the bench.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.