The sole connection that many black Americans have with golf, especially those under 40, can be summarized in two words: Tiger Woods. If Woods is in contention in a major tournament, black folks will tune in, turn into golf experts and turn all the way up if he pulls out a victory.
Though Woods has never been one to rep for the culture (No one will ever forget the whole “Cablinasian” comment), the culture rides for him whenever he finishes atop the leaderboard. The rest of the year though, golf is like an order of fried rice made with peas and carrots or the work picnic potato salad that for some reason is filled with raisins – we’re not checking for it at all.
However, the Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry is trying to change that.
This week, Curry announced that he would fund Howard University’s Division 1 golf program for six years, starting in the 2020-21 academic year. Curry also leveraged his relationships with Under Armour and other brands to provide shoes, apparel and equipment for the program.
Curry is an avid golfer. According to ESPN, he played golf on his high school team. He has also participated in in several amateur and celebrity tournaments over the years and is co-host of the mini-golf TV show “Holey Moley.”
Though the NBA star did not attend Howard University (Curry starred in basketball at Davidson University), it’s notable that he felt compelled to support an HBCU. He wanted to give black.
The idea was birthed after a conversation between Curry and Howard student Otis Ferguson IV. Ferguson had tried, and failed, to drum up support for a D-1 golf team at the school.
“[Otis] had sent out flyers trying to make people come to a room on Howard’s campus and just get people interested in the game, but he wanted to take it to another level,” Curry said at a news conference. “And here we are announcing a new golf program, all because of this guy.”
So what’s the big deal? I mentioned before that outside of Tiger sightings, most black people aren’t checking for golf. However, this deal is important for many reasons.
First, it shows one of the highest profile athletes in the world supporting an HBCU even though he did not attend the school. In the world of the rich and famous, giving is contagious. Curry dropping a few million to support Howard’s golf program will likely inspire another athlete or wealthy benefactor to do the same for Grambling, Morehouse, Harris-Stowe or Lincoln.
Secondly, it will open up interest in the sport of golf and provide additional scholarship opportunities to men and women of color.
When I began working at The American I had nearly no interest in golf, outside of Woods. However, my coworkers introduced me to the game and now I play awfully and enjoy every minute of it.
Do you know how many business dealings and networking opportunities take place on the golf course? What I once looked at as a boring sport for rich, white people has now turned into a fun and challenging game that offers amazing opportunities.
Had I been exposed to golf as a youngster, maybe I would’ve been out there with Woods. Maybe I’d be a CEO of a fortune 500 company. Curry’s support will help inspire the next generation of black golf superstars and black businessmen.
Take a look across nearly every other major sport and you’ll see black faces littered amongst the all-time and/or current greats. Even hockey boasts the likes of P.K. Subban and Wayne Simmonds (New Jersey Devils), Dustin Byfuglien (Winnipeg Jets) and Kyle Okposo (Buffalo Sabres) amongst current players. Retired players Grant Fuhr and Jarome Iginla rank amongst the all-time greats.
It’s long overdue to get some more black faces in the game of golf. Glad to see Curry and Howard University teaming up to do just that.
What’s up with AB?
Faithful readers know that I haven’t been particularly tuned into NFL news over the past several years. However, I found it amusing that amidst all the talk about social justice, silent protests, Jay-Z vs. Colin Kaepernick, etc. that the Oakland Raiders’ Antonio Brown was making a huge fuss about a football helmet.
*Cue Allen Iverson’s legendary practice rant.*
“Helmets? Helmets?!?! We talking about helmets???”
Brown, who started training camp on the sidelines due to frostbitten feet, decided he wouldn’t return because he was unhappy that the NFL banned his favorite helmet model.
Several helmet models, including Brown’s, were banned last season after failing lab testing for impact protection. However, the NFL gave certain players a one-year grace period to upgrade to approved helmets.
When the league told Brown it was time to pick another brain protector, the diva wide receiver refused to practice, filed a grievance against the NFL and threatened to retire. Ultimately Brown’s grievance(s) failed, he returned to practice and this entire silly episode appears to be in the rearview mirror – for now.
Given Brown’s history for selfishness, I’m sure it won’t be the last time Raiders fans are scratching their heads asking what’s up with “AB.” The NFL has made a lot of boneheaded moves in recent years. Ensuring that players wear safe helmets is not one of them.
Meanwhile, it’s been over 900 days since Kaepernick was employed by an NFL team.
Follow Ishmael and In the Clutch online at stlamerican.com and on Twitter @ishcreates.