Breaking Barriers and Cultivating Sports Talk: A Conversation with Scoop Jackson

Written by Greg Harris

The art of journalism has changed and cultivated over time. The standardization of writing and reporting news has revolutionized and has become more innovative than the average viewer would imagine. One sector of this art is Sports Journalism. Sports Journalism has played a pivotal role in most people’s lives with the help of networks that focus on a 24-hour cycle of informing their viewers on the latest topics that’s happening with various teams and athletes. This format is informational but at the same time the factor of entertainment has to be taken into consideration. Coming from a viewer’s standpoint, no one wants to “talked to” through a television. One must be intrigued by how one articulates and presents themselves on their television screen so they can come back to that same source the next day. You have individuals in this industry that have that gift. From the likes of Bryant Gumbel to Stuart Scott to Stephen A. Smith, each of these reporters brought something unique to the table. Whether it’s the vast vocabulary they used, the sharp interviewing techniques they displayed, or the sense of swagger they bring, it was always a characteristic that one can pinpoint to define each analyst. 

The distinction of a reporter is what makes him relevant to anyone who chooses to be entertained by their writing skills and/or their ability to gravitate someone from their television screen. One reporter who never fell short of doing so is Robert “Scoop” Jackson. I remember watching ESPN at an early age, and being able to differentiate which reporters I liked the most due to their wittiness with words and electric offering to the love of sports. Scoop Jackson was a part of my selective group of favorites because he was young and didn’t stick to the "cookie cutter” design of what a Sports Journalist should be. His individuality allowed him not to be set by boundaries, whether it was from his way of dressing to the way he went about structuring his stories. 

The portrayal of his features was always filled with something deeper than some of the specials you see on ESPN today. One feature of his I remember in particular was when ESPN’s “The Life” was covering LeBon James’ life before he was drafted June 26, 2003. This piece showed the potential Lebron James had at 18 and him signing a over $90 million contract with Nike before playing in the NBA. It also gave light to how young, charismatic, and eager LeBron was. The youthful spirit that was instilled in him was demonstrated when they rode around Akron to him cherishing the moment with his friends and family when he graduated to being mischievous at the Nike Headquarters in-between meetings. This “feel good” attitude was not only instilled in LeBron, but it was a compelling force that was flowing around Cleveland. Another thing to consider, this is before LeBron became the person he is today. So just the fact that Scoop had the vision to bring this to the forefront in it’s primitive stage and do it his way is transcending alone. 

Individuality made Scoop Jackson the iconic journalist he is today because he expressed a lifestyle that most can relate to and do it in a smooth manner where he was able to crossover the distinctiveness of music and culture into sports. Now it's over a decade later, and we had a chance to speak to Scoop Jackson about his upbringing in Chicago, what hurdles he had to face, and what ultimately made him the journalist he is today.

Listen to the interview here below.