Wed, Jun 13, 2018 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Remembering a broadcast legend

Fu Da-ren (傅達仁) might have been last known as a proponent of assisted suicide who was not able to die in his own nation, but every Taiwanese fan of basketball in the 1990s will surely remember his trademark defen (得分) exclamation whenever an NBA star scored.

Fu, who had pancreatic cancer, finally got his wish on Thursday last week in Switzerland after almost two years of lobbying the government to legalize assisted suicide. He was 85.

Just a week before his death, the Ministry of Health and Welfare drafted regulations for the Patient Right to Autonomy Act (病人自主權利法), which is to be implemented in January next year and includes permission to terminate life support or artificial nutrition of patients under certain circumstances if they made the decision in advance. It would still not be the direct euthanasia advocated by Fu — who was suffering greatly, but was not on life support — but it is the first law of its kind in Asia and a good start.

Maybe Fu’s dream will come true down the road, but probably only after much more debate and discussion. It is one thing to remove life support, but it would likely be hard for people to accept, or even for hospitals to be willing to perform, euthanasia on a person who is still talking and walking.

However, to the nation’s basketball fans, Fu was much more than just a sportscaster-turned-advocate. Whenever there was no school during the NBA season, the drill for these people was to wake up early and plant themselves in front of the TV as Fu’s familiar, distinct voice called out the on-court action. He was not flashy or overly animated like his US counterparts — his announcing was colorful, but steady, with a sort of inward energy that became his trademark style.

His achievements are even more impressive considering he was orphaned at age four, living on the street until a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) orphanage in Nanjing, China, took him in and eventually brought him to Taiwan, where he became a basketball star. He played on the national team until he was 27 years old, when he retired and began his coaching and broadcasting career.

Many basketball terms still used on Taiwanese basketball courts today were coined or popularized by Fu, including gai huoguo (蓋火鍋, to block a shot), caban (擦板, bank shot) and mianbao (麵包, bread) for when a shot does not even hit the rim. He has also been credited for many baseball phrases, including yangchun quanleida (陽春全壘打, a one-run homer), but he definitely left his biggest imprint on basketball; not surprising, as it was his sport of choice.

Although he retired in 1998, his voice was still heard every now and then, and fans were delighted to hear Fu, then 73, announce the FIFA World Cup in 2006.

Fu’s gaunt, sickly appearance after becoming ill might have been shocking to those who remembered him from the 1990s, but his spirit was still there as he fought tooth and nail for the right to end his suffering, and he was mightily determined, making public appearances and keeping a high profile about his illness to plead his case.

Taiwan provided Fu an opportunity to escape war for a better life and a successful career, but it was not able to grant his final wish. Now that he is gone, he should be remembered as a legendary sportscaster who influenced countless young people in Taiwan.

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