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BERRECE ANDREWS CRITIQUES SPORTS
African Americans still support Tiger Woods
By Berrece Andrews
The Mid-South Tribune
and the Black Information Highway
AKRON, Ohio – It is no secret that more African Americans are watching golf and attending tournaments these days including the PGA tournaments. This was evident at the Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament in Akron August 2 through August 8. A reporter with ESPN, commented to me that the attendance at Bridgestone may have been the largest turn out of African Americans he has ever seen. There is no way to verify this, but they were there in numbers, and they were there to see and support Tiger Woods. Yes, they were there to support Tiger Woods along with many others in the crowd at the Firestone South course.
Starting Thursday with his time on the practice tee the attraction among all spectators was clear. The stands filled up for Tiger as shouts from the crowd could be heard, ‘Come on Tiger’, ‘Let’s go Tiger’, and ‘Good luck Tiger’. Golf fans wanted to see the still number one golfer in the world. Unlike on the course, he did not disappoint. Tiger began his warm up with routine wedges in a tight shot pattern beginning with target one, then target two, and finally three with ever increasing distances. He worked his way through the middle irons with the same precision finally getting to the club everyone wanted to see, the driver.
Unfortunately, the precision demonstrated on the practice range didn’t follow Tiger to the course. It was clear that Tiger still had support from many in the crowd. Interviews from African American participants revealed some patterns. They all came to see and support Tiger. They came as individual women in their mid-twenties, to four generations of men from the same family on an outing to two African American women in their sixties. They had attended from one to nine PGA tournaments, and all believed that attendance at PGA golf events was up due to Tiger Woods. The two women in their sixties even reported that on Sundays now, many women in their church group get together and watch golf because of Mr. Woods. They all continue to support him and want him to do well even with his off the course antics.
“It’s going to take time” was a consistent message of what it’s going to take for Tiger Woods to get back to his previous form. They all believe that to continue the increasing interest in golf among African Americans, it will take more exposure to the game early, and more programs that provide access like the First Tee. A telling example of this is the fact that many of the golf teams on Historically Black Colleges and Universities are dominated by golfers who are not African American. Tiger Woods started early to be the best. Expressed by some was the question on the minds of many, what happens to African Americans in golf after Tiger Woods' career is over?