Last year, ESPN broadcast the powerful story of the African-American stuggle in the sport of basketball (Black Magic). This year, The Golf Channel will be recounting the path blazed by African-Americans in the Sport of Kings in a documentary titled Uneven Fairways.
Acclaimed actor, Samuel L. Jackson hosts this 60-minute documentary that will premiere February 11th at 9 p.m. EST.
Here’s the trailer for this powerful and historical film.
Say what you want to say about them… but they were right!
It was at the time when they made the comments somewhat a general thought amongst the mainstream media and those that listened to what they predicted as the ramblings of just loving parents or crazy black men who had delusions of grandsire. It is about a decade and change later and those “ole crazy black men”, being the late Earl Woods and Richard Williams sound more like Nostradamus than Uncle June after some drank at the bar be cue.
They both predicted their seeds or children would be prolific athletes that would excel and succeed at the highest level of their sports and have proven to do so. We have watched the greatness of Tiger Woods from his here I am world performance in the ’97 Masters, to now being the greatest golfer in the world and it’s not even close. We are surprised when he doesn’t win a tournament now, we are somewhat disappointed when he doesn’t when a major.
We actually have suggested if he has the audacity not to win at least 1 or 2 majors a year that he is in a slump, but we didn’t set that standard for him as much as those goals were created and publicly put out there by Earl Woods, Tigers dad who groomed him for every element of challenge on a golf course, and showed what it takes in the world of golf from the time he could stand to live up to those expectations.
Tiger is a world icon now who has not just captivated his sport, but made golf relevant to people who could care less about the game, unless he is teeing off in that particular tournament. He not only has backed up his daddies bold assertions of success with what he has accomplished so far in the game, but seems to be in his prime even as he deals with the 1st significant injury of his career.
Remember, he played this year in The Masters on a busted knee and damn near won the thing! He has also carried himself without any major controversy or life issues that have impacted peoples opinion of him in terms of marketing or thoughts that he his a fraud. Earl Woods passed away a few years back and clearly has left a major mark on this world…job well done!
Richard Williams was right about his daughters getting to their destinations of greatness, but he conducted them to it on an entirely different path. From the time the former junkman made the the decision to raise world class tennis players, he did it his way, from how they would learn the game, to grooming them himself and avoiding the tennis academies and junior tennis circuit that have burned out and ruined more than their share of tennis prodigies.
On the rough streets of Compton California, he took his baby girls to to local tennis court and taught them skills, stamina, mental and physical toughness. The biggest thing they learned from father Richard was total self-reliance and how to be great by playing each other more than anyone else. By doing that, he created ultra-competitive women’s champions who not just took the game by storm, but have taken it to a higher level. The quick walking gray-haired smallish black man to this day is the trainer for his daughters many majors and many millions made, they still roll with papa Richard. There is still major work to do as both of them still have major years of quality tennis left in them.
The other aspect of their greatness is the way the have grown up right before our eyes and become great examples of not just women of color, but great role models for all young women, on and off the court. The absolute way they handle themselves with such class in all situations from the murder of their older sister in Los Angeles, to some of the racist issues they have had to overcome here in the US and around the world in the world of tennis…once again, job well done.
Now a major shout out goes out to moms for all parties too, but these great athletes and people have always went out of their way to talk about the driving force to their greatness being their dads. As we roll up on Fathers day here in the near future, remember what you may have thought when you first saw on television or read in a magazine the ramblings of these at the time “crazy ole black men.” They were crazy alright… I wish I was crazy like that too!
Steve Haywood, Host of “That Being Said”
ESPN Radio 540 Milwaukee
September 16, 2007 – Atlanta, Ga.
Tiger Woods won the Tour Championship and the inaugral FedEx Cup after his final round 66. He is 31 years old and after 11 years on the PGA tour, he possesses 61 career wins… of which, 13 are major championships.
Since turning pro, Tiger wins 28% of the tournaments that he enters. That is an incredible winning percentage and it dwarfs the other top golfers. Phil Mickleson wins 9% of the time, VJ Singh 8% and Ernie Els comes in at about 6%.
Tiger stands 6’1″ weighs 185 lbs. and is the most intimidating athlete on the planet. He is at the top of the food chain in professional sports and will accept no other order. There is no peer to this once-in-a-lifetime athlete… we should all appreciate the living history we are witnessing as this man continues his march towards breaking every record in PGA history.
“Clubs like Augusta National don’t discriminate. They just don’t want you. There’s a difference. It’s a b___ not being wanted by something or someone, which is why divorces are so difficult. But I’ve learned to handle rejection very well. If you love yourself enough, you won’t give a damn if they want you or not.” These are the words spoken by the late, great Earl Woods (article by Guy Yocom, Golf Digest, February 2004).
If you’re unfamiliar with Earl, let me make his legend plain for you with just four words… this is Tiger’s Father. I’m certain you know about Earl’s kid who just happens to be the greatest golfer ever sired.
Don’t think of Earl as some sellout because he taught his boy how to play a game rich in history of racism towards people of color. No, no, no… you need to understand that Earl was a throwback… a tough… in your face dude.
He was a gifted athlete that was exceptional at baseball and was the first African-American baseball player in the Big 8 Conference (Big 12 today). His lost both his parents before the age of 13, yet they encouraged him to put away his baseball glove to pursue a career in education. Later in life, when his country called, he served two tours as a Green Beret in Vietnam. Earl remained in the army until he retired in 1974.
“My whole life is about being positive. It’s about dreaming, and then taking steps in your life to achieve those dreams. It is about overcoming obstacles and stereotypes such as bigotry and prejudice. Life is about giving and about sharing and caring for others, standing up and being counted for what you believe in, being a spokesperson and a role model… ” Earl Woods, Playing Through
As a father, I see a lot of myself in Earl. He was a man of tremendous principal and spirit. Though racism and later envy would be mighty foes, he faced all challenges and gave no quarter.
I know how much I’ll miss seeing him and the kid with the red shirt embrace on the 18th hole of another major championship. Big Earl went to sleep with his fathers at the the age of 74 on May 3, 2006. He fought and won a couple battles with cancer, but eventually lost as everyone does.
Keep resting in peace Big Earl… the kid is still winning and allowing us to see a lot of you while doing it.