Indulge me if you will.
It’s been a week since this story appeared in the Toronto Star and I’m trying to figure out the point of it.
The headline is “All-white Ryder Cup highlights golf’s diversity problem,” and the writer makes the observation that players and captains are all white despite large black populations in the countries/areas they represented.
Of course, had Tiger Woods not been injured, the all-white theme would have been changed and the story even points that out.
Curiously, it says in one sentence that the lack of diversity in golf fails to reflect the society in which it operates, but in the next sentence, says it isn’t all golf’s fault or unique in sports. Still, it’s dismaying and newsworthy, according to the story.
It is dismaying to be sure and waiting for an answer to the problem, I read on. That answer or any constructive suggestion never came.
It even said that plenty is being done to make golf more accessible, so why not focus on that, instead of at least hinting that golf is consciously trying to exclude people?
Leading into a quote from Calvin Peete, a black player who did take part in the Ryder Cup, it says that barriers to black kids are the same now as when he was breaking into golf in the 1970s – lack of finance and lack of exposure to the sport.
Isn’t that the case with many kids from all backgrounds? That’s what we hear continuously in golf, which isn’t a street sport, one that kids can play easily such as pick-up basketball or baseball or road hockey to plant the seeds for their love for those games.
Golf requires time from parents to drive them to golf courses or driving ranges. It requires lessons and equipment and green fees. There are affordable courses out there, but affordable is in the eye of the beholder and really depends on income level.
Golf is attempting to deal with such challenges and the story itself mentions a program in England. There’s also the First Tee in the U.S. and Golf in Schools and CN Future Links here in Canada.
I’m not naive enough to think racism doesn’t exist in Canadian golf, as it does in all walks of life, but my confusion with this story is whether or not we’re even discussing racism or economics or interest level or the times in which we live.
As time goes on, we’ll see the impact of the programs golf has established to get people started in golf at a much younger level, but if there are other good ideas, the space in which that story appeared would have been a good place to bring them up.
If the game is to include people of all backgrounds, painting a picture of golf as being an unwelcoming game will only keep them away and raise the odds against it ever becoming the utopia the writer thinks it should be.