From The Inbox

PGA Tour should not hide from its role in society

Reader responds to letter writers who implore the PGA Tour to remain free from political commentary, suggesting that the values celebrated in the game have a place in the wider world

I am understanding yet wholly dismayed by three letters to Morning Read on Wednesday (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Sept. 2).

I certainly respect the opinions of readers Bill Boutwell, Jerry Adams and Bob Baribeau in seeking the PGA Tour’s avoidance of recognizing the state of today’s racial problems, yet I strongly disagree.

They label it “politics” and “political commentary," and much of the current polarization surrounding racial affairs in our country is, indeed, political in nature, yet the history of race in this country transcends politics and instead permeates into and reflects our society and its values.

We all look to sports — and especially golf — as games that reflect and teach their participants solid values, with fairness and equality chief amongst them. Professional sports are but an important microcosm of our society. We learn valuable lessons about inclusion, merit, achievement as well as competition, sportsmanship and community from sport. I believe that Morning Read’s subscribers would agree that golf is amongst the sports yielding the highest education of those values.

Years back, a prominent pro athlete made a peaceful protest to police violence and took a knee to make a personal statement against it. The press, the league and its owners, along with prominent personalities – political and otherwise – swiftly chastised and ultimately ostracized this man. He was banished from his sport and occupation (despite his commonly recognized high level of talent), and targeted as a radical provocateur, even having his life continually threatened over his symbolic rebellion. Fast forward to today, and this man is now looked at as a quiet-spoken sage and a forefather of reminding us of what it’s like to be part of a race that is commonly endangered from those charged with protecting all citizens.

What’s the lesson here? It’s that sports, of every kind and every level, play a role in teaching our society how to function, learn, adapt and change for the better. The PGA Tour has a special role to play. It is the face of a sport that long has been considered elite, partly exclusive and predominantly white. Surely the Tour and its associated venues and people have done an admirable job of integrating over the past few decades, but its history of hostility to those of color or different creed was undoubtedly one of proven bigotry and bias.

Think about the message that the Tour would send to its primary and secondary audiences (along with its biggest fan) if it were to step alongside the exigent statements today’s NBA, MLB, NFL, MSL, et al., are making and join in a peaceful advocacy for racial equality and a better society for all. Would using the Tour’s large platform to ask for those things really hurt anyone, other than the closeted bigots and intolerants who seek to bubble themselves from the real world and further self-examination? My personal opinion is that it can only help.

Steven Lapper
Far Hills, N.J.
(Lapper is a co-owner of Fox Hollow Golf Club in Branchburg, N.J.)

It's just possible that PGA Tour knows what it’s doing
In his putdown of the PGA Tour, Alex Miceli indicates that he thinks he knows what’s “going on” in this country and that the PGA Tour doesn’t (“One Take: PGA Tour misses chance to lead,” Sept. 1).

Perhaps the PGA Tour doesn’t consider itself to be a political mouthpiece but rather a source of entertainment in which the viewer does not care to be involved in political disputes or social protests. It also is possible that the PGA Tour realizes that there are always two sides to every story or incident that is played in the news and Tour officials don’t want to jump on any one side without knowing all of the facts. It also is possible that the Tour realizes that one group of people is being scapegoated for every ill of a society that has been in the making for more than 500 years.

Maybe the PGA Tour is aware of an FBI warning to Chicago police officers indicating that they are the potential targets of 36 street gangs whose members have vowed to kill them while filming the act, and the Tour does not want to inadvertently embolden such behavior. It also is probable that the PGA Tour has seen the TV ratings plummet for other sports leagues that have opted to go for political protest instead of athletics. The loss of revenue and viewership is probably not a goal of the PGA Tour.

When I read Morning Read, I care only about golf. If this publication goes beyond that, I’m done.

Daryl Lott
Houston

Seek another perspective
The level of “white privilege” in the Morning Read "Inbox" recently is stunning (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Sept. 2).

The “shut up and play” viewpoint is an incredibly ignorant position, by the truest definition of the word. I can’t fathom the negative reactions by so many over the temporary walkout by NBA and NHL players, saying they’ll never watch another game. Gee, I’m sorry that trying to further the fight against racism in this country spoiled your entertainment for a night or two. Most of the readers of Morning Read (like me) never have had to experience many of the issues that Black Americans have faced for 400 years.

Cameron Champ, who is biracial, is making a silent statement with his golf shoes. Great for him. Kirk Triplett has “BLM” on his golf bag. Great for him. All of these things help raise awareness, which finally might start to stem the tide of systemic racism in this country.

Those who fail to admit that this exists are the ones who are burying their heads in the sand, not Alex Miceli. Racism in the 21st century should not be political; it first should be recognized as a major problem, then attempted to be solved by everyone, regardless of political-party affiliation.

Those who disagree are the ones who should not stay in their comfortable lane; instead, get out of it and view things from a different perspective. Take the blinders off. Ask a Black person for his or her perspective, and listen to what is said.

Gregg Cook
Mechanicsburg, Pa.
(Cook is the executive director of the Hershey Harrisburg Sports and Events Authority.)

Pro golf enters social and political scene
When Kirk Triplett added “Black Lives Matter” to his golf bag and Cameron Champ put “BLM” on his one white/one black golf shoes, professional golf entered the social and political scene.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stuck his head in the sand during the Colin Kaepernick demonstrations, only to come out now to say he “... wished we had listened earlier.”

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Va.

If you fall into a wormhole, John Fischer can help
I just wanted to let John Fischer know how much I have enjoyed his articles in Morning Read.

The “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn story and the 1929 U.S. Open pieces in back-to-back weeks led me to read a lot of the other work from Fischer in Morning Read (“Let’s see PGA Tour top this caper at Olympia Fields,” Aug. 25; “The 12-foot putt that changed the course of golf history,” Sept. 2).

I always learn something and inevitably will fall deep into an Internet wormhole reading up on something that piqued my interest.

Tim Ward
Palatine, Ill.

Drawing a line against dawdling on the green
We continue to read of slow play and varying suggestions to minimize it. During last week’s TV coverage, it dawned on me that one of the delays on greens arises from alignment and realignment of the line placed on the ball.

The dubious benefit of this practice makes me wonder why the players go through this exercise. Of course, this ordeal is copied by Saturday morning golfers.

Not only in the interest of speed of play but also in eliminating artificial assistance during the course of play, the USGA should draft a rule to eliminate the line.

Gordon Williams
Ellsworth, Ohio

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