PGA TOUR players comment on recent racial injustice issues
August 27, 2020
By Ben Everill
Cameron Champ addresses social injustice at BMW Championship
OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. – Cameron Champ contemplated sitting out the BMW Championship in support of the fight against racial injustice in the U.S. but ultimately decided his presence at Olympia Fields could do more.
While completely behind the decision of NBA, WNBA, MLB, MLS and WTA players who stood down from games to take a stand against racial inequities, Champ knows he is part of a small minority of African Americans on the PGA TOUR.
As such he felt wearing one black and one white shoe this week with messages of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake and his late grandfather Mack and then speaking out about the situation, was his best course of action. He also wore an “Equality” hat during play and will continue to do so throughout the tournament.
“I just want to show my love and support. I definitely thought about (not playing) for sure, but obviously I feel like I can do a lot more playing, and again, showing my support and expressing myself,” Champ said after his opening round.
“I think that's great for the NBA. I mean, all the guys sticking together, which again, the NBA is -- I don't know the exact numbers, but it's probably around 90 percent are African Americans, so that's their whole organization. So just to see them come together and talk about it and obviously they're going to continue the season, but just to boycott their last few games, again, I think that's a huge step… it's a good thing we're all talking about it, because it's what needs to happen for change to happen.”
While Champ and Tiger Woods are the only two African Americans in the field this week they were not alone in their support of peaceful protests and light being shone on the issues. The PGA TOUR issued a statement of support before play began and Commissioner Jay Monahan was on site and followed Champ’s round.
“The MLB, MLS, NBA, WNBA and WTA protests are player-led, peaceful, powerful ways to use their respective platforms to bring about the urgent need for change in our country. There have been a number of efforts in the past to send a message that the current climate is unacceptable, and these teams, leagues and players now taking this step will help draw further attention to the issues that really matter. The PGA TOUR supports them – and any of our own members – standing up for issues they believe in.” the TOUR statement read.
“The PGA TOUR made a pledge over the summer to be part of the solution, and we have been actively working to make deeper and more specific commitments to racial equity and inclusion in the communities where we play, as well as supporting national organizations within this movement that we had not previously engaged with. However, we understand that now is not the appropriate time to highlight our programs and policies, but rather to express our outrage at the injustice that remains prevalent in our country.
“Sports have always had the power to inspire and unify, and we remain hopeful that together, we will achieve change.”
Champ knows if you take a stand invariably some will try to knock you down. He is prepared for that. But he feels it is important to remember that while everyone is entitled to an opinion, there should be more understanding, education and kindness around the expression of those.
“Black Lives Matter means all lives matter. When people say all lives matter, yes, all lives matter, but so do black lives. It's a situation where, again, as a country, as a whole we've kind of dug ourselves a hole,” Champ said. “Now with media and people videotaping and seeing things, it's starting to come alive. People are starting to talk about it, which is the good thing.
“Without dialogue, without talking about it, nothing is going to happen. And so I think this is a decent start, but obviously there's still a lot of stuff going on that quite frankly should not be happening at all.”
“And even with Jacob Blake, it's the same thing. I get criticized for doing something, but then when you look at the facts, he's still a human being. Regardless if he has a criminal record… he's still a human being, and for me just to watch that video… again, regardless of what he's done in his past or people saying he had an arrest warrant or he had this, he had that, he's a human being. It just has to end.”
Joining Champ in speaking out was Tony Finau. Finau is of Tongan and Samoan descent and hopes the dialogue, however uncomfortable for some, produces real change. He applauded the NBA stance, but like Champ felt he could do his part by speaking out and being in the spotlight.
“Anyone that's willing to have the uncomfortable conversation about systemic racism and just that in general in our country is a healthy thing for all of us. We continue to learn from each other in a positive way I think is the most important thing, and we all have different perspectives as we go through our life,” Finau said.
“As a society I think it's our responsibility to just listen and pay attention to what's going on around us, and if we're willing to have those uncomfortable conversations, I think our country can continue to move forward.”