ESPN Columnist Boycotting Florida Sports over Trayvon Martin Verdict

ESPN Columnist Boycotting Florida Sports over Trayvon Martin Verdict

On Thursday, ESPN columnist Scoop Jackson announced that he plans to “stand his ground” and boycott all Florida sports. Jackson, reacting to the Florida jury’s acquittal of charges against George Zimmerman over the death of Trayvon Martin, wrote that he made the decision partly because he “felt the need to do something instead of sitting back as if nothing that happened mattered.”  

While Jackson concedes that some will label his move “ignorant, misguided and something only Kanye would do” he notes it was “Not an urge impulse or something I haven’t thoroughly thought through.” 

For Jackson, Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law is at the “center” of his boycott, but he also includes similar legislation found in other states: 

Look, no state is perfect. Most are far from it. Florida is not the only place in these United States that has laws in place that stand on and for the same exact premise/law that is at the center of my boycott. “Stand Your Ground,” “No Duty To Retreat,” “Line In The Sand” or variations of this law exist in 30 other states. I get that. But nothing as polarizing as the Martin/Zimmerman incident has happened outside of Florida and turned into a national debate.  

According to Jackson, “the verdict should be a battle cry that forces the citizens of a nation to once again look at ourselves in the mirror and come to another conclusion on what we see.” 

Although Jackson acknowledges his “little divestment from all things Florida sports won’t change anything or have any significant ripple effect on the world of sports,” he suggests his decision is hardly surprising given his stance on previous sports issues: 

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? 

In conclusion, Jackson writes that “I realize in the end this gesture might only make me feel better about myself. As if I’ve done something. More important, it won’t leave me feeling as if I did nothing.”

While it is certainly possible to admire Jackson’s stance–and indeed he deserves credit for sticking to his principles–Jackson and many others opposed to “Stand Your Ground,” ultimately fall short, however, when they fail to offer any realistic alternative.

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