Earlier this week we took exception to some comments made about BJ Upton by Scoop Jackson of ESPN.com. Among the most egregious statements made by Mr. Jackson was the suggestion that inner-city kids will relate better to Upton because he is occasionally “lazy”.
At some point yesterday, a “clarification” was added to the column.
In my column about B.J. Upton, I wrote something that sparked a reaction.
The paragraph read: “The fact that Upton’s not perfect makes him perfect. His propensity to be lazy (as witnessed in August when he ‘decided’ not to run hard on three different occasions), the fact that [Joe] Maddon literally pulled him off the field after not running out a double-play ground ball, the meaningless error in the seventh inning of Game 4 that allowed questions about his lack of focus to surface. All display a flaw in him that almost works to his advantage when kids and wannabe baseball players look at him and say ‘I’m not perfect either, but look, he’s still standing.'”
For some readers, my choice of words created a misunderstanding. When the word “lazy” appeared in the context of a story about black youth, some concluded I was implying African-American kids would find the flaw of Upton being “lazy” acceptable and endearing.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Upton has survived and triumphed despite numerous flaws. I mentioned several, in an attempt to show that it is his collection of imperfections that make him so publicly “human” — something not always so clearly visible with athletes today. That is also why I chose to finish the paragraph with the image of a kid — any kid, regardless of race, color or creed — who might identify with that humanity, realizing “I’m not perfect either, but look, he’s still standing.” My point is to highlight that we — as humans — can often identify with somebody through both their strengths and flaws, both of which are apparent in the new “hero.” And regardless of the color of any kid’s skin, flaws can be overcome.
Mr. Jackson says he “mentioned several” flaws. We have read the piece many times and the only flaws Scoop mentions are “laziness” and “lack of focus” which could be interpreted as being equivalent. In fact, this was our concern from the beginning. Why focus on laziness. Upton is a great baseball player and an incredible athlete, so finding flaws may not be as easy as say finding flaws in a Scoop Jackson column, but certainly Mr. Jackson could have come up with something else…anything else.
Mr. Jackson then goes on to say that he ends the paragraph “with the image of a kid — any kid, regardless of race, color or creed — who might identify with that humanity.” Mr. Jackson is suggesting that he all of the sudden stopped focusing on inner-city African-American kids and switched his focus (without telling the reader) to create an “image” of a kid, devoid of a specific “race, color or creed”? If this is true, my 9th grade English teacher would call that a “Vague Antecedent”.
Thanks to everybody that brought this to our attention.