As we said in our last post, we have been working on something special for you.
We put together an indepth interview with espn.com Page 2 and SLAM magazine columnist, Scoop Jackson.
We imagine that most of our readers are familiar with Scoop on some level.
As you read this, please keep in mind, that the interview was conducted via email and Scoop answered in caps, very informally.
What we are saying is....kill the noise and complaints about spelling and typos. We could have edited it, I suppose. But why? This was essentially an informal discussion, so we left it in that form.
We hope this gives you a better insight into probably the most maligned personality on espn.com.
Additionally, we think the last answer Scoop gives could effectively be applied to this site.
And hit us back with your thoughts, impressions and suggestions for future interview subjects.
"hope this works. if you need anything else, let me know. answers are in caps. thanks!!!
1. We'll cut right to the chase. On espn.com's Page 2, you are known for your powerful opinions and are often accused of "reverse-racism". A term developed by the same institutions which, in an effort to perpetuate racism, deny its existence. It's the classic "i'm rubber and you're glue" defense, used by people that don't like what they see when you hold a mirror in front of them and force them to look at themselves. We often get the same response from some of our readers. We liken it to the "kill the messenger" analogy. In our minds, "reverse racism" is a term conjured as a self defense mechanism. Pulled from thin air to be used in instances in which the accuser has been met with an argument in which he is incapable of effectively engaging. It is less than an empty phrase. When you are accused of "reverse racism", does it have any meaning to you?
IT DEPENDS. I AGREE 100% WITH YOUR DEFINITION OF "REVERSE RACISM" BUT AT THE SAME TIME I DO BELIEVE IT EXISTS AND THAT WE (BLACK PEOPLE) ARE CAPABLE OF USING IT, ALTHOUGH OFTEN UNINTENTIONALLY. I'M MORE INCLINED TO GO WITH "GUILT" AS OPPOSED TO "SELF DEFENSE" AS THE MECHANISM USED FOR THE TERMS EXISTENCE. A LOT OF TIMES WHEN WE PLACE OUR TRUE FEELINGS AND BELIEFS IN FRONT OF THE COUNTRY THERE IS A SENSE OF "GUILT" THAT I BELIEVE INSTANTLY OVERCOMES MANY AMERICANS BECAUSE IT'S VERY HARD TO COME TO GRIPS WITH AMERICA'S PAST WHEN IT CONCERNS US. THE WAY THIS COUNTRY TREATED BLACKS CAN NOT BE DENIED AND THE TRUTH HURTS, HURTS BOTH WAYS: HURTS US TO REMEMBER, HURTS THEM TO BE REMINDED. AND THAT'S WHERE, TO ME, THE GUILT COMES IN. SO WHEN I "HOLD A MIRROR" AS YOU SAID, UP TO AMERICA, I UNDERSTAND THE REACTION FROM THOSE WHO DON'T UNDERSTAND OR DON'T WANT TO TAKE THE TIME TO UNDERSTAND WHERE I'M COMING FROM. I'M COMING FROM A PLACE THAT AT TIMES WILL MAKE THEM FEEL GUILT. AND IF WE ALL STUDIED THE NATURE OF HUMAN BEINGS AND HOW WE COMMUNICATE WITH ONE ANOTHER WE'D KNOW THAT ONE OF THE NATURAL REACTIONS TO GUILT IS DEFENSE... ESPECIALLY IF YOU FEEL THAT YOU ARE NOT DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR WHY THE GUILT EXISTS. AMERICA WANTS TO AND TRIES TO DISCONNECT ITSELF FROM IT'S PAST WITH US. THAT'S WHY YOU ALWAYS HEAR "WHY CAN'T YOU ALL GET PAST IT, YOU HAVE OPRAH, MICHAEL JORDAN, TIGER WOODS, KEN CHENAULT IS RUNNING ONE OF THE MAJOR COMPANIES IN THE WORLD, A BLACK COACH JUST WON THE SUPER BOWL, OBAMA IS A GREAT LEADER AND REPRESENTATIVE FOR YOU ALL, ETC." BUT THEY NEVER TAKE INCONSIDERATION THAT EACH ONE OF THE PEOPLE THEY MENTION IS ONE, NOT SEVERAL. AND IN THE SEARCH AND NEED FOR SOME FORM OF EQUALITY, ONE DOESN'T EQUAL MANY. FOR EVERY ONE AFRICAN-AMERICAN LEADER THAT IS THROWN IN OUR FACE TO FOLLOW AND BE SATISFIED WITH, THERE ARE 35-50
OTHER NON-AFRICAN AMERICANS THAT COUNTER THEIR PRESENCE AND EXISTENCE. YEAH, OBAMA IS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT, BUT HOW MANY BLACK GOVERNORS AND SENATORS DO WE HAVE IN AMERICA? SEE WHAT I'M SAYING OR TRYING TO GET AT? BUT MOST OF THE PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY DON'T SEE IT THAT WAY, THEY SEE IT IN A WAY THAT "WE SHOULD BE HAPPY WITH OBAMA AND THAT'S IT. BE HAPPY THAT WE HAVE OPRAH, AND THAT'S IT. BE HAPPY THAT DENZEL HAS TWO OSCARS, AND THAT'S IT. AND THAT'S WHAT I HAVE TO DEAL WITH, OR AT LEAST THAT'S THE WAY I LOOK AT IT IN ORDER TO DEAL WITH SOME OF THE REACTIONS AND RESPONSES I GET FOR WHAT I WRITE. I TRY TO BE VERY REASONABLE AND UNDERSTANDING OF PEOPLE'S RESPONSES WHEN THEY SAY I USE "REVERSE RACISM" TO GET MY POINTS ACROSS, BUT I'M NOT ALWAYS ACCEPTING OF IT. BUT JUST LIKE I WANT OR HOPE THAT PEOPLE SEE THINGS FROM MY VANTAGE POINT, I TRY TO DO THE SAME WITH OTHERS. I MAY AT TIMES WRITE THINGS THAT WILL UNINTENTIONALLY UPSET AND IRRITATE SOME PEOPLE AND ONCE I GET RESPONSES I TRY TO TAKE A STEP BACK AND SEE WHERE THEY ARE COMING FROM AND SEE WHERE THERE MAY BE SOME VALIDITY FROM THEIR VANTAGE POINT AND IN WHAT THEY ARE SAYING. AT THE SAME TIME, I HAVE TO STAY GROUNDED IN THE ORIGINAL BELIEF OF WHAT I WROTE. I KNOW IT'S NOT RIGHT, BECAUSE AS A JOURNALIST I'M SUPPOSED TO BE TOTALLY OBJECTIVE TO EVERYTHING, BUT I DO WRITE WITH A MINDSET OF WHAT'S IN THE BEST INTEREST OF BLACK PEOPLE. THAT TO ME IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE MY OBLIGATION. SO WHEN I HEAR "REVERSE RACISM" I UNDERSTAND WHERE IT COMES FROM AND SOMETIMES - EVEN THOUGH I MIGHT DISAGREE WITH IT - I SEE WHERE THOSE THAT CLAIM IT CAME TO THAT CONCLUSION. BUT FOR ME IT'S BETTER TO NOT BE TOTALLY OBJECTIVE THAN TOTALLY OBLIVIOUS. LIKE EVERYTHING IS ALL GOOD. THE PLAYING FIELD IS NOT THAT LEVEL.
2. We notice in the comments section, and have seen on threads on a message board called sportsjournalists.com, complaints that you are a poor writer. For example, in your most recent column, you capitalized the 'c'in the word 'common' at the end of the sentence. This was obviously done as a reference to the popular musician, Common. But a lot of folks that read your columns don't understand your references, assume you made a mistake, and label you ignorant. Do you get any pleasure (we do) from knowing that those critics are unknowingly, yet overtly displaying their own ignorance -clearly showing that you are writing on a higher plane than they are capable of understanding?
THERE'S NEVER A PLEASURE WHEN PEOPLE THINK YOU ARE IGNORANT AND THERE'S NEVER A PLEASURE WHEN PEOPLE DON'T GET IT BECAUSE AS A WRITER YOU'D LIKE FOR THEM TO GET IT SO THAT THEY CAN ENJOY WHAT IT IS THAT YOU WROTE OR WHAT YOU WORKED ON. LIKE THE COMMON THING IN THE BONDS COLUMN THE OTHER DAY. THE SENTENCE WAS "...NOTHING TO STOP HIM FROM FINDING FOREVER IN THE NEXT NUMBER. I KNEW WHAT WAS GOING ON IN HER MIND, WE HAD THAT MUCH IN COMMON." NOW COMMON'S NEW CD IS ENTITLED"FINDING FOREVER." SO OF COURSE FOR ME, AS A WRITER, I THOUGHT THE SENTENCE WAS SLICK, LIKE A CLEVER RHYME VERSE. BUT THERE WERE THOSE WHO GAVE ME SOME HEAT BECAUSE OF THE SPELLING OF COMMON BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T KNOW THE CONNECTION TO THE 'FINDING FOREVER" OR DIDN'T KNOW THAT HIS NEW CD WAS COMING OUT AND THAT WAS THE TITLE OR THEY DIDN'T EVEN KNOW WHO HE WAS. EITHER WAY, THEY DIDN'T "GET" THE WORD PLAY AND BECAUSE OF THAT TAGGED ME AS BEING "IGNORANT" AND A POOR WRITER. WHICH TO ME, I GET NO PLEASURE OUT OF BECAUSE THEY "MISSED" WHAT I THOUGHT - STILL THINK - IS A CREATIVE PART OF THE STORY. IT'S LIKE MISSING THE PUNCHLINE OF A JOKE. I GOT THE SAME THING WHEN I USED "BEAUTIFULLEST" IN THE TITLE OF ONE OF MY COLUMNS ABOUT A YEAR AGO. GOT ALL TYPES OF EMAILS TALKING ABOUT HOW I "BASTARDIZED" THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. AND SOME OF THOSE EMAILS CAME FROM PEOPLE WHO KNEW THE CONNECTION TO KEITH MURRAY'S SONG (THE MOST BEAUTIFULLEST THING IN THE WORLD), BUT STILL THEY DIDN'T CARE. THERE ARE TWO ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTION, ONE - AND I'M BEING VERY HONEST HERE - I THINK I AM A GOOD WRITER, BUT I AM A POOR TYPER. ALWAYS HAVE BEEN. (AND I'M NOT THE GREATEST SPELLER EITHER)IF YOU TALK TO THE EDITORS AND EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT AT ESPN THEY WILL TELL YOU THAT SOMEONE'S NAME WILL ALMOST ALWAYS BE MISSPELLED IN EVERY COLUMN I TURN IN. AT TIMES I DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW IT HAPPENS BUT IT'S ALMOST BECOME STANDARD ON MY PART EVEN WHEN I DO EVERYTHING IN MY POWER TO AVOID IT. IT'S LIKE A CURSE. AND IT'S SOMETHING I DETEST BECAUSE I THINK IT'S DISRESPECTFUL TO THE PEOPLE I'M WRITING ABOUT AND TO THE EDITORS WHO ARE WORKING ON MY COPY. IT'S REALLY SOMETHING I NEED TO DO A MORE THOROUGH JOB OF EXECUTING, I'VE BEEN WORKING ON IT FOR A WHILE. THAT SAID, TYPOS AND MISSPELLING THINGS IN TEXT ARE A PART OF THE GAME. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECTLY WRITTEN COLUMN OR STORY. WHICH IS WHY WE HAVE EDITORS, MANY OF THEM. AS WRITERS OUR JOBS IS TO CREATE AND OFTEN WE HAVE TO CREATE UNDER SERIOUS DEADLINES, SO IN THE PROCESS OF TRYING TO CREATE SOMETHING OF SUBSTANCE AND WORTH, WE MESS SOME WORDS UP OR SOME FACTS. EDITORS ARE THERE TO CORRECT THOSE BEFORE THE COPY GOES TO PRINT, PRESS OR POST. NOW MUCH LIKE WRITERS, THEY ARE WORKING ON CRAZY DEADLINES TOO, AND MORE THAN OFTEN WORKING ON MORE THAN ONE STORY AT A TIME. BUT IT'S THEIR JOB TO FIND THE FAULTS IN WHAT WE WRITE AND MAKE THE NECESSARY CHANGES, AND JUST LIKE US, THEY ARE NOT PERFECT... EVEN IF THERE'S MORE THAN ONE OR TWO THAT EDIT STORIES. WHAT'S FUNNY TO ME IS WHEN THERE'S A TYPO IN A COLUMN OR SOMETHING IS MISSPELLED HOW I, THE WRITER, GETS BLAMED AND CALLED "ILLITERATE" OR"IGNORANT" OR "A HORRIBLE, UNEDUCATED WRITER" AND SEVEN TO EIGHT OTHER PEOPLE READ AND CHECKED THE STORY/COLUMN BEFORE IT GOT POSTED BUT NONE OF THEM CATCHES ANY HEAT. NO FLAK. THAT'S WHAT MAKES ME LAUGH. WHEN PEOPLE READ SOMETHING THAT I WROTE THAT MAY HAVE BEEN A MISTAKE AND ACT LIKE I JUST WROTE THE COLUMN AND IT WENT DIRECTLY FROM MY COMPUTER ON TO THE SITE. BUT IF PEOPLE WANT TO CONCENTRATE ON THAT AND NOT LOOK AT THE CONTENT OR PAY ATTENTION TO THE OVER ALL MESSAGE OR HAVE HANG-UPS ABOUT THE DETAILS AS OPPOSED TO WHAT IS THE OVERALL CREATION OF THE COLUMN AND WHAT IT'S ATTEMPTING TO SAY, THEN SO BE IT. THERE'S NOTHING I CAN REALLY DO. I DO THINK IT'S UNFORTUNATE. IT'S LIKE RUN'S LINE IN "KING OF ROCK" WHERE HE SAID, "THERE ARE THREE OF US BUT WE'RE NOT THE BEATLES. "NOW WE ALL KNOW THERE WERE FOUR BEATLES, BUT SHOULD THAT ONE MISTAKE TAKE AWAY FROM HOW GREAT THE SONG WAS? I WOULDN'T BECAUSE I'D RATHER CONCENTRATE ON THE GENIUS OF THE SONG THAN FOCUS A SMALL MISTAKE THAT TO ME DOESN'T TAKE AWAY WHAT THEY WERE TRYNA DO. THE OTHER COMPONENT IN THIS IS THAT I HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT PEOPLE ARE NOT USED TO SEE WHAT I DO IN THE CONTEXT OF WHERE IT IS PRESENTED. JOURNALISM HAS NOT BEEN THE PLACE FOR CREATIVITY IN WRITING THE WAY I SOMETIMES PRESENT IT. BOOKS, PROBABLY. POETRY, PROBABLY. BUT IN MAINSTREAM JOURNALISM AT THE LEVEL OF AN ESPN, IT REALLY HASN'T BEEN SEEN, NOT EVEN WITH THE OPENNESS PAGE 2 HAS DEVELOPED ON ESPN.COM. SO WHEN I GET SOME OF THE RESPONSES I GET I UNDERSTAND THAT SOME OF IT COMES FROM WHAT I WROTE NOT BEING THE "NORMAL" PLACE WHERE THAT STYLE IS ACCEPTED OR BETTER YET SEEN. I GET TOLD ALL OF THE TIME, "LEAVE THAT --- AT SLAM, ESPN IS NOT THE PLACE FOR THE WAY YOU WRITE." IN THEIR MINDS I'M SUPPOSED TO CHANGE. MY PHILOSOPHY IS THAT, AND THIS IS AN UNDERSTANDING ME AND ESPN HAD FROM THE VERY BEGINNING, I AM ALLOWED TO BE ME. IT MIGHT TAKE SOME TIME, BUT IF I PROVIDE REALLY SOLID AND STRONG CONTENT THEN THE AUDIENCE WILL EVENTUALLY COME AROUND. THEY'LL GET IT. IT'S JUST GOING TO TAKE SOME TIME.
3. A while back, we interviewed Whitlock on here. In an effort to see how far your differences extend, we want to ask you a question that we asked him. And compare your answers. Which is the best 'cue: Memphis, Kansas City, Carolina or Mongolian?
THAT'S A HARD QUESTION TO ANSWER. I SAY THAT - AND PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT I LOVE GATES BBQ IN KC, KEEP A CASE OF THE SAUCE AT MY CRIB (HOUSE)- 'Q IS SUCH A PERSONAL MEAL THAT CHOOSING WHERE THE BEST 'Q IS FROM CAN'T BE DONE. IT'S ABOUT WHO COOKS THE 'Q, NOT THE PLACE. AS GOOD AS SOME OF THE SPOTS IN MEMPHIS, CHICAGO, CAROLINA, GEORGIA, ETC. ARE, NO COMMERCIAL BBQ IS GOING TO BE AS GOOD AS WHEN SOMEONE IS OVER THE GRILL AT A PICNIC OR IN A BACKYARD. I KNOW CATS THAT DO THAT FOR A LIVING THAT DON'T HAVE RESTAURANTS WHO'S 'Q IS BETTER THAN I'VE TASTED ANYWHERE. AND THAT CAN BE IN ANY STATE OR CITY, IT ALL DEPENDS ON WHO THE CHEF/COOK IS. PICKING THE PLACE THAT HAS THE BEST BBQ IS LIKE PICKING THE PLACE IN THE COUNTRY THAT HAS THE BEST BASKETBALL PLAYERS. IT CAN'T BE DONE.
4. Are you at all surprised at the vigor with which the federal government has pursued its case against Michael Vick? Particularly knowing that the very same government that is trying Vick for cruelty to animals allows the military to train dogs, with no concern for the dogs well being, to find explosives and fulfill other combat related roles. And dogs have been killed as a result.
WHAT I FIND MORE HYPOCRITICAL THAN ANYTHING ELSE CONCERNING THE VICK CASE IS HOW THE ORGANIZATIONS AND FEDS THAT ARE GOING AFTER HIM - SEEM TO BE ONLY GOING AFTER HIM!!! TO ME, THEY ARE NOT CONCERNED WITH THE WELL-BEING OF THE DOGS OR CONCERNED ABOUT STOPPING THE CULTURE OF DOG FIGHTING. THEIR CONCERN IS SINGULAR. THEY WANT VICK. THAT'S ALL. SO TO ME, THERE'S A DISINGENUOUSNESS TO THEIR APPROACH. TO ME IT'S EQUIVALENT TO THE GOVERNMENT BUILDING A WAR ON DRUGS STRATEGY AND GOING AFTER ONE DRUG DEALER OR THE RECORD INDUSTRY GOING AFTER ONE BOOTLEGGER OR THE MOVIE INDUSTRY GOING AFTER ONE COMPANY THAT'S PIRATING FILMS. THE REPORTS THAT HAVE COME OUT CONCERNING THE POPULARITY OF DOG FIGHTING IN THIS COUNTRY HAVE SAID (AND CONFIRMED BY PETA AND THE ANTI-CRUELTY SOCIETY) THAT DOG FIGHTING IS A BILLION-DOLLAR BUSINESS. DO WE REALLY THINK VICK HAS GENERATED CLOSE TO A BILLION DOLLARS WITH HIS BAD NEWZ KENNEL OPERATION? I'M NOT SAYING IT'S RIGHT AND NEITHER AM I PROTECTING VICK, BUT LET'S BE CLEAR: YES HE IS A BIG NAME, BUT I NEED TO SEE SOME OTHERS GETTING CRACKED DOWN ON BESIDES VICK TO MAKE ME BELIEVE THAT THE FEDS ARE CONCERNED WITH THE INHUMANENESS OF THE CULTURE AND NOT JUST CONVICTING ONE PERSON OF A CRIME.
5. Donovan McNabb recently took some heat for verbalizing his support for Michael Vick. He essentially stated that he hoped Vick hadn't done what he is accused of, and that he would like to see him back on the field. Due to the media's twisted representation of McNabb's statements, he was forced to clarify the next day that he was not supporting dog fighting.It has to be tempting for you to resort to the same type of tactics that the mainstream media uses (ie, spinning quotes and contexts). How are you able to rise above it and stick to painting an unbiased presentation that stays true to both yourself and reality?
I TRY VERY HARD TO APPROACH THINGS I WRITE ABOUT WITH CONSIDERING THE WHOLE OR AS CLOSE TO A COMPLETE PERSPECTIVE AS POSSIBLE. I'M NOT ALWAYS SUCCESSFUL, BUT I DO TRY ON ALL ACCOUNTS TO APPROACH WHAT I DO IN THAT MANNER. THE REASON WHY IS BECAUSE I DON'T SEE A LOT OF US - JOURNALIST, MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA, ETC. - DOING THAT. THE CULTURE OF JOURNALISM - BE IT PRINT OR BROADCAST AND ESPECIALLY SPORTS JOURNALISM - NOW IS TO SAY WHATEVER AND HOPE THE AUDIENCE FALLS FOR IT. IT'S LIKE SAYING BONDS IS A CHEAT AND ACTING LIKE NO ONE ELSE IN BASEBALL IS CHEATING OR THAT THE COMMISSIONER ISN'T AS GUILTY BY DOING NOTHING ABOUT THE KNOWN STEROID USAGE WHEN IT ORIGINALLY BECAME EVIDENT; IT'S LIKE ONLY FOCUSING ON THE STUDENTS AND THE GIRL IN THE DUKE LACROSSE SITUATION AND ACTING LIKE THE UNIVERSITY - THE PRESIDENT, THE DEAN, THE CHANCELLOR, ETC. - HAD NO RESPONSIBILITY IN WHAT HAPPENED BY LETTING THE PLAYERS ON THAT TEAM BE AS OUT-OF-CONTROL AS THEY WERE FOR ALL THOSE YEARS; IT'S LIKE THE PICTURE THE MEDIA PAINTED OF THE CRIMINALITY DURING THE NBA ALL-STAR GAME IN VEGAS WITHOUT DOING THE RESEARCH TO FIND THAT THE ACTIVITY WAS ON PAR WITH WHAT USUALLY GOES DOWN IN VEGAS WHEN BIG EVENTS COME TO TOWN OR ON NEW YEARS EVE; IT'S LIKE BLAMING KOBE BRYANT FOR THE SITUATION THE LAKERS ARE IN AND NOT CONSIDERING THAT A BIG PART OF THE ORGANIZATION'S DOWNFALL IS BECAUSE THE OWNER AND GM TRADED SHAQ AWAY WITHOUT GETTING AT LEAST ONE ALL-STAR IN RETURN. I COULD GO ON AND ON. THERE'S A THEORIST BY THE NAME OF ELISABETH NOELLE-NEUMANN THAT CALLS THIS THE "PILLORY" FUNCTION OF THE MEDIA. IT'S THE FEELING OF BEING SCAPEGOAT'D BY THE MEDIA, ALMOST TO THE DEGREE THAT WE ARE HELD HELPLESS BY THE MEDIA BECAUSE AN ALTERNATIVE OR COUNTER POINT-OF-VIEW IS NON-EXISTENT OR SILENT. PART OF WHAT I TRY TO DO IS NOT BE A PART OF THAT SPIRAL OF SILENCE; TRY TO GIVE A VOICE TO VOICES OFTEN UNHEARD. SO TO "RISE ABOVE IT," AS YOU SAID, I TRY TO RISE ABOVE IT BY LOOKING TO SEE IF THE TOTAL PICTURE IS BEING PAINTED OR IF THERE'S A PERSPECTIVE TO A STORY THAT'S NOT BEING CONSIDERED. OFTEN TIMES WHEN I DO WRITE SOMETHING THAT COUNTERS WHAT HAS BEEN PRESENTED IN MASSES,PEOPLE THINK I'M WRITING JUST FOR THE SAKE OF CREATING SOME FORM OF CONTROVERSY. AND THAT'S OFTEN THE FURTHEST THING FROM THE TRUTH. OFTEN I JUST LOOK AT THE LANDSCAPE OF WHAT IS BEING COVERED AND SEE IF THERE IS A VOID IN MY MIND IN THAT COVERAGE. THAT'S ALL. FROM THERE I TRY TO FIND A CREATIVE AND SUBSTANTIAL WAY TO PRESENT IT. THE PROBLEM FOR MOST IS THAT I TOO OFTEN HAVE "WE" (READ ABOVE) IN MIND WHEN I DO THAT.