Nearly 8 years ago, Jason Whitlock publicly called ESPN.com columnist Scoop Jackson, “a clown”, adding, “the publishing of his fake ghetto posturing is an insult to black intelligence, and it interferes with intelligent discussion of important racial issues,” for good measure. Fast foward to the present day (well, yesterday), and Jackson just happens to have chosen the week of Whitlock’s return to ESPN to announce that he’ll no longer be covering any Florida sporting events in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal on murder charges.
Here’s the hopelessness in all of this: It means something but will accomplish nothing. My little divestment from all things Florida sports won’t change anything or have any significant ripple effect on the world of sports. There will be no mass following; more will disagree with me than agree.
I’m not from Florida so my investment isn’t high, and this isn’t South Africa in the apartheid era, so my actions aren’t clear. Yet, I’m the same person who refuses to watch the Masters until they change their policy toward women members (to me, the additions so far are tokens), who took a stand that I still hold today against Notre Dame over the difference in treatment it executed in the departures of Ty Willingham and Charlie Weis, who in 2007 stopped filling out NCAA brackets because I feel they are counterintuitive to the essence of March Madness. Why change now?
This is my Yasiel Puig swing at taking a stance while using sports as the scapegoat. As a sportswriter and fan, sometimes that’s all we have.
Indeed, Jackson isn’t based in Florida. He’s done a good deal of work for in recent years for ESPN Chicago, but he’s yet to be called upon to analyze the Florida Panthers’ offseason. In the view of an actual Florida journalist, New Times’ Kyle Munzenrieder, Jackson’s not being entirely constructive in this instance :
There are simpler and more direct ways to feel like you’ve done something if you disagree with Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, like, say, donating a little bit of money to a Florida-focused gun control PAC, or finding a vulnerable incumbent Florida legislator who supports the law and ponying up $10 to his or her’s strongest competitor.
Jackson’s stance likely comes because he’s a sports columnist who wouldn’t normally get to write about issues outside of sports, so he’s found a dramatic way to let his feelings be known about the Zimmerman verdict in a way that includes sports.