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The Masters laid waste to the notion of social justice causing sports' TV ratings decline

Shalise Manza Young
·Yahoo Sports Columnist
·3-min read

Can we stop now?

Can Twitter trolls and media observers and anyone else who has pointed to Black athletes and those that support them being vocal and demonstrative about Black lives mattering as the reason why sports television ratings are down just stop?

Because it’s not true.

It may not have ever been true.

More evidence has emerged that it was nothing but a made-up talking point from those who are offended that Black athletes — also known as “people” and “citizens” — will not bow to their Facebook videos of burned jerseys and pithy statements that they should “stick to sports.”

The Masters, one of the most beloved and homogenous events in American sports, was played this past weekend.

Congratulations are in order for winner Dustin Johnson, but relative to other years, no one watched Johnson’s five-shot win.

Plenty goes into that, of course; the tournament even moved up final-round tee times to avoid competing with Sunday’s slate of NFL games. But that competition for attention has plagued every sport the past few months, and the Masters wasn’t spared.

And it wasn’t because of raised fists, anthem kneeling during songs or BLM pin flags.

So stop.

So about social justice messaging being the reason sports TV ratings are down. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
So about social justice messaging being the reason sports TV ratings are down. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

As American sports go, golf might be more right-leaning than any other, except maybe NASCAR. Jack Nicklaus, one of the ceremonial Masters starters this year, openly supported President Trump’s reelection. Several PGA Tour members have played a round or two with Trump during his presidency. The Masters didn’t allow a Black player to play in the tournament until 1975 and Augusta National didn’t admit its first Black member until 1990.

And for all of the attention Tiger Woods’ success has brought to the sport, it hasn’t resulted in more Black players becoming professional golfers — currently there are just four men with Tour cards who are of African-American heritage, including Woods.

There have been acknowledgements of the renewed call for racial reckoning that began with George Floyd’s killing in late May, with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan releasing a statement 10 days after Floyd’s death that followed other corporations who made nebulous commitments to increasing diversity in their ranks, and senior tour player Kirk Triplett played with a BLM sticker on his bag.

But other than a few players participating in the performative #BlackoutTuesday on Instagram in June, there hasn’t exactly been a groundswell of public support for the movement in golf.

So save the “It’s those damn social justice warriors, I just want to watch my sports!” B.S.

And if the Masters’ ratings don’t convince you that we pesky Black people asking for things like not being killed in our own homes while we sleep ...

Or being able to vote without hours-long lines ...

Or seeing so-called public servants try to retroactively negate our votes ...

Or being able to perform a job without being held hostage by a white man questioning why you’re in their neighborhood ...

... is not why fewer people are watching sports on TV, maybe all that plus historically low World Series ratings and a steep drop in Stanley Cup Final ratings will.

Because those leagues aren’t exactly on the vanguard of social justice, either.

You know who is? The WNBA.

Its ratings were up substantially this season.

Let’s start talking about that.

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