Shout out to reporter Jeremy Bembry with, The Undefeated. He penned just the article I was thinking of as I watched Tiger Woods wins his first major tournament in five years at Sunday’s Tour Championship in Atlanta.
I must say that I was simply amazed – there was a sea of hundreds of golf fans following Tiger and almost mobbing him. Everyone wanted to get to the 18th hole to see the final putt that would make Woods a winner again.
What struck me as most interesting was the racial make up of the crowd – sure golf has long been a predominately white sport, but to see hundreds of mostly white people flocking to Woods was a reminder that sports does often times transcend race, bigotry and hate.
Yes, I know some of my loyal readers will say well Fullwood you know that Tiger is different than other Black men. Hell, in fact, he doesn’t even want to be called an African American. I am not sure if he still feels that way, but at this point it is irrelevant. Even if he doesn’t want the label, he’s seen by most people as a Black man.
But back to Bembry’s article entitled, “In a Nation Divided, Tiger Woods Serves as a Rare Unifier,” he is absolutely correct. Despite the roller coaster ride that he’s been on over the past five years, there is no bigger star in the game of golf. Some might argue that there’s no bigger star in all of sports.
Bembry wrote, “In a nation divided by politics and sports (with Colin Kaepernick and LeBron James often targeted), Woods somehow stands as somewhat of a unifier.”
Tiger has been transformative. He helped introduce a new generation of youth and young adults to golf and has had a direct impact on Blacks’ interest in the sport.
The article in The Undefeated points out how diverse Tiger’s following really is. “The proof: There are few individuals in this country who, over the course of four days, can elicit support from the president of the United States (on Sunday he tweeted: “Tiger is playing great. Looks like a big win could happen. Very exciting! @TigerWoods”) and Big Boi from OutKast, who followed Woods during his opening round Sept. 2,” stated Bembry.
Last weekend, Tiger basically proved to the golf world and his peers that he will be a force in majors once again, which some thought that they would never see. Here’s the reality – when Woods plays a tournament, the ratings go up and they gold world watches. He’s good for the sport.
Most fans are hoping that he has a few more good years left in the tank or should we say in the “back.” Golfers should really be thanking Woods because he’s helped the tournament winnings or purses skyrocket over this career.
Some wondered if we would ever see Tiger on the golf course again. He was still a fairly young 41 year old, but golf has become a young man’s game. The top ranked professional is Dustin Johnson, and he’s 32 years old. The next four on the list are all 25 years old or younger.
There was only one 40 year old in the top 20. So age was not on Tiger’s side. Most golfers never really retire, they move on to the senior tour or play whenever they feel like it.
While Woods seems to be back on top of his game, his fan base seems to be back as well. But don’t be mistaken – Black folk still don’t like the fact that Woods is somewhat of a friend to President Trump, but most don’t completely hold that against him.
I spoke with Jerome Crawford, a local African American golfer, on Monday who said that Tiger has the ability to make people forget about race. He watched the hoard of people flocking to the 18th hole and was just as amazed as anyone. Crawford said that golf was getting exciting again now that Woods is playing well.
He also said that he was bothered by Tiger’s past comments about race and his lack of identification with African Americans, but he can separate his personal concerns from his admiration of Woods’ golf game and impact on sports.
No Woods will probably never use his celebrity to fight for the rights of those in need or even jeopardize his endorsement deals or contracts to take a knee in protest of police brutality, but maybe his success will remind everyone that we are one nation.
Maybe Tiger can remind us all that storms don’t last forever and despite all of his trials and tribulations, he can be great again. His redemption and come back are true life lessons that transcend race and hate. Perhaps Woods can be a great unifier by simply being himself while rediscovering his greatness.
“The world of sports knows no religious, racial or political differences. Athletes, from whatever land they come, speak the same language. The lessons of competition are lessons for life,” said Robert Kennedy.