Stuff Black Like People Don’t Like has said it before and we will say it again: without sports – and ESPN – Black people would have few, if any positive images to display to the world.
Sports allowed integration – especially in the south – to happen and sports have the ability to “mainstream” positive images of Black people to Americans who spend countless hours in front of the television watching college football, professional football and basketball.
Movies depict sports as the great racial equalizer and the only way to bring about harmony between the races is to have Black and white people compete on the same athletic field, wearing the same team jersey. Take for instance Remember the Titans:
“Remember the Titans centers on the American football team of the newly integrated T. C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia. Although based on a true story, events in the film are largely exaggerated, especially those pertaining to initial racial tensions within the team, as well as the level of opposition the Titans faced.”
In 1971, at the old desegregated T. C. Williams High School, Herman Boone (Denzel Washington), also derogatorily known as Coach “Coon,” is hired as head coach for the school’s football team. He takes the place promised to former head coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton). Yoast at first refuses Boone’s offer as the assistant head coach, but then changes his mind after his white players pledge to boycott if he doesn’t coach. The black and white members of the football team clash in racially-motivated conflicts on a few occasions while at football camp but, after forceful coaxing and team building efforts by Coach Boone, the team achieves as well as success. Boone makes the camp quite rigorous; when the bus is leaving for the camp all members are instructed to wear a shirt and tie; anyone not doing so will watch the season and not compete. At the camp, anybody who displays any misconduct at practice is instructed to run a mile. One time during camp, Coach Boone wakes up the players at 3:00 am to run through the woods to end up at a Civil War battleground where he delivers a stirring speech on why that war was fought (“the same fight we are still having today”).”
That film grossed more than $115 million at the United States and leaves the viewer with the impression that without sports, Black people wouldn’t have much else to do for they would never have been included in mainstream American life. Thankfully, sports do exist and Black people can rest easy at night.
However, resting easy at night isn’t going to be a feat accomplished anymore at Tiger Woods abode, for the most popular athlete in the world has finally hit into a rough he might be incapable of hitting out of:
Tiger Woods did not suffer facial lacerations from a car accident.
They were inflicted by his wife, Elin Nordegren — according to a conversation Woods had Friday after the accident.
Tiger has yet to be formally interviewed by the Florida Highway Patrol — that should happen this afternoon. But we’re told Tiger had a conversation Friday — with a non-law enforcement type — detailing what went down before his Escalade hit a fire hydrant.
We’re told he said his wife had confronted him about reports that he was seeing another woman. The argument got heated and, according to our source, she scratched his face up. We’re told it was then Woods beat a hasty retreat for his SUV — but according to our source, Woods says his wife followed behind with a golf club. As Tiger drove away, she struck the vehicle several times with the club.”
Obviously, the tragedy of Tiger Woods getting in a horrible car accident is a news story on par with OJ Simpson racing through Los Angeles in a White Bronco, which is every news channel covered it with morbid fascination:
“Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman Sgt. Kim Montes said Saturday that investigators are “trying not to get on the rumor mill.” The world’s No. 1 golfer smashed his Cadillac near his $2.4 million mansion at 2:25 a.m. Friday and was briefly hospitalized, police said. Though there still has been no information on where he was heading at that hour, plenty of details from the crash have emerged: His lips were cut, and Windermere police chief Daniel Saylor said Woods’ wife, Elin Nordegren, used a golf club to smash out a back window and help Woods from the car.”
Tiger Woods is of course one of the great examples of sportsmanship for young people to emulate and now, we are treated to watching Woods engage in alleged extra-marital affairs and for an episode worthy of Jerry Springer breaking out at his home.
Tiger Woods plays golf, one of the last sporting activities that demands the participants to play by the rules and be gentlemen always:
“J.P. Hayes can sleep at night, knowing he did the right thing. That doesn’t mean the last few days haven’t been difficult and it doesn’t mean the coming months won’t be a challenge. They have been, and they will be. But as a professional golfer, playing a sport that is self-policed – a sport in which integrity is as important as winning titles and cheating is practically non-existent – Hayes knows he did the right thing. His sin? Hayes inadvertently played a non-conforming golf ball – one not on the list approved for competition by the United States Golf Association – for one hole of a second-stage qualifier in McKinney, Texas.”
Worse, Mr. Woods happens to represent something more important to the athletic world as he is the only Black person in the PGA:
“Ten years after he joined the PGA Tour, Tiger Woods still stands alone. And not just because he’s so good. Woods was supposed to open the sport up to black kids in America and around the world. Yet a decade later, he remains the only black golfer on the tour. This week, he plays at the U.S. Open, being run by the USGA, which talks about bringing minorities into the sport but doesn’t have a single one on its executive committee. “Am I disappointed? Yeah,” Woods said when asked about the dearth of blacks at the highest levels of golf. “I thought there would be more of us out here.”
Golf is the ultimate individual sport, where every action is dictated primarily by what you do (weather can be a factor), as opposed to football, basketball or baseball. Thus, if few Black people play golf and make it to the PGA then the fault must lay squarely on the feet of Black people, not the reason this writer claims:
“While white resistance to the integration of blacks into all the major sports continued after initial desegregation efforts, nowhere was this resistance more complete than in golf, where the maintenance of a system of overt and institutional racism prevailed for many decades after initial racial barriers were removed.”
Thankfully, the PGA is trying to remedy this situation to bring greater racial balance to a sport played overwhelming by white and Asian people:
“With much fanfare, the PGA Tour established the First Tee program eight years ago, an attempt to bring the game to the inner city and get more minorities involved. In many ways, the program has been a success. Of its 450,000 participants, 44 percent are white, 27 percent are black and 10 percent are Hispanic. In all of golf, 84 percent of the players are white.”
Of course, with America becoming increasingly non-white, golf is in dire of need of broadening its appeal to people of color or else it might find the fairways of the hundreds of golf courses across the country empty:
Out on the fairways, course operators work to stay green. On the tee sheet, they should be looking to get less white. At least that’s what demographic studies indicate. According to a Brookings Institution report, Caucasian populations have declined in more than half of the counties in the United States since 2000. Meanwhile, Latino and African-American populations are on the rise. Quite simply, the white male—golf’s go-to customer for more than 100 years—is fading on the census tables. USA Today, crunching data from 2007, cited “the slowing growth of an aging population of whites” as a force that is “reshaping the nation’s demographic landscape.” What’s more, the article cited a parallel trend: “Immigration [and] a population boom among Hispanics.” As for America’s black population, when it was tallied in 2007, the numbers showed a one-year increase of approximately 500,000 residents—up to 40.7 million total. By 2050 or sooner, African-Americans will account for 15 percent of the population (versus 13.5 percent now). Despite the growing number of black and Hispanic-Americans, these groups are under-represented as golfers. Even if these minority groups weren’t expanding their populations, they could gain importance to course owners just by increasing their golf-participation rates toward the national average for Caucasians of 14.5 percent. Currently, the participation rate among Hispanics is 5.4 percent, while for African-Americans, it’s at 7 percent. Asian-American golfers don’t have as much upside in this regard, with adults in this group registering a 13.7 golf participation rate.”
Thus, the reason Tiger Woods is so important to golf and to attracting Black people to the fairways. 500,000 people are directly employed at golf courses throughout the country and the future for those who want a part in this industry is looking ever more dark, unless Black people start playing and paying to play:
“According to the National Golf Foundation, the number of new courses expected to open in the United States in 2008 is the smallest in 20 years. More courses are scheduled to close this year (nearly 100) than the 80 expected to open, though the closures have fallen since almost 150 were shut down two years ago. The golf construction boom of the 1990s – when about 2,500 new courses (mostly daily fee ones) were added to the 13,000 or so already extant in the U.S. – is not only over; it’s stuck in reverse.The problems of the broad economy are bedeviling golf course construction. The housing market’s collapse has hampered development, since a number of golf projects these days are tied into on-site housing. Getting financing to build a new course is tougher than it has been in decades. Projects that were started this year have seen the bulldozers turned off until better times appear.”
“In Scotland and Ireland, where there are more golf courses per person than anywhere else in Europe, the pain is being felt most keenly in the loss of tourist traffic – especially traffic that once originated in the United States. Golf tourists spend an average of $315 (250 euros) a day on a weeklong holiday, with a quarter of that spent on teeing off, and the rest going to travel, hotels and food, a report by KPMG’s Golf Benchmark shows. That means golf across Europe, the Middle East and Africa is a $67 billion (53 billion euro) industry.”
Tiger Woods can’t become fodder for late-night comedians. He is to important to the golfing world and Black people, for he is one of the few Black people in the country club at any given time who isn’t cooking, cleaning or serving.
He is vital to the PGA and the golfing world and to have his name sunk in the depths of a horrible sand trap isn’t a salvageable situation. Worse, he is needed for PGA events as his mere presence is vital for television ratings.
“Now Woods can add one more accolade to his trophy case: the first athlete to earn $1 billion. Our calculations show that the $10 million bonus Woods earned winning this year’s FedEx Cup title nudged him over the $1 billion mark in career earnings. Forbes has been tracking athlete earnings since before Tiger turned pro. Woods had earned a cumulative $895 million going into 2009, by our estimates, from prize money, appearance fees, endorsements, bonuses and his golf course design business. If you add his $10.5 million in 2009 prize money, the FedEx bonus and his take so far this year from his more than $100 million in annual off-the-course earnings, Woods’ career earnings are now 10 figures.”
So, Tiger Woods alleged sleeping around on his wife doesn’t bode well for golf, nor for the pristine image that has been concocted of Tiger Woods. This is a huge blow to one of the worlds top athletes and to the cause of Black people playing golf, which – as we have shown – could have massive ramifications on the future of golf itself!
Stuff Black People Don’t Like has to include Tiger Woods fall from grace; for he is the only Black person on the PGA Tour; an iconic business image and spokesman for numerous companies; and one of the important Black people on the planet. He married a beautiful woman and yet finds himself engaged in behavior that is more in line with John Daly than with Greg Norman.
Perhaps Daley and Woods can discuss their negative press over wings and beer at Hooters.