By Deems Tsutakawa For The North American Post
Growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s, I, like many Americans, got hooked on watching professional and college sports on television. Every weekend, the CBS NBA Sunday “Game of the Week” would be featuring the Minneapolis Lakers (now the Los Angeles Lakers), the Boston Celtics, the Philadelphia Warriors (Golden State/San Francisco), the Buffalo Braves (Los Angeles Clippers), the Rochester Royals (which became the Cincinnati Royals, then the Kansas City/Omaha Royals, next the Kansas City Kings, and finally the Sacramento Kings), the Chicago Bulls, etc.
By the ‘60s, professional basketball had a lot of African Americans in the league which always seemed so very cool to me. Baseball and football were moving forward toward adding players of color but hockey and golf have always been pretty much all white. The only exceptions that I noticed in golf were the great Lee Trevino and Chi Rodriquez. Those two added much needed pizzazz to a sometimes boring format; TV needs big personalities for better ratings.
Being an avid golfer myself, I like to watch the pros when they play the big events such as the Masters, the US Open, the PGA, and the British Open. With the meteoric rise of Tiger Woods, some twenty plus years ago, his incredible accomplishments have inspired a plethora of fresh faces on the men’s tour that are a welcome site for people of color. Vijay Singh, Kevin Na, Notah Begay, KJ Choi, Anthony Kim, and Isao Aoki were players of note for several decades. More recently, players such as Tony Finau, Hideki Matsuyama, Ricky Fowler, Kevin Na, Sungjae Im, Xander Schauffele, Abraham Ancer, Jason Day, Sung Kang, Cameron Champ, Kurt Kitayama, Hoatong Li, Ryo Ishikawa, Si Woo Kim, Harold Varner, CT Pan, and many more have carved their way onto the PGA Tour and are making a good living to go along with their newly found fame. Of course, the great Collin Morikawa recently won for the third time in his young career and this time it was a major event (the 2020 PGA). As the PGA is one of the four biggest golf tournaments in the world, a legend was born. As he is still humble and gracious, we are proud.
Editor’s note. Deems wrote this column on Aug. 12, 2020.