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The Evolution of Opportunity in Sports


Opportunity can be said to be a favorable juncture at which circumstances occur. From our case, Cliff Roberts believed that as long as he was alive, golf will continue being a white mans game. He also implored that there was no way a black person could play golf. Roberts’ further believed that they will continue being caddies. History has proved him wrong as the situation has changed as time goes by.

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For instance, there has been the evolution of opportunity with Jackie Robinson breaking the major leagues’ color barrier. In addition, there has been the historic victory of Tiger Woods at the Augusta National Golf Club. All this occurrences have been brought about by various circumstances.


Racial segregation was not a norm in United States for a brief time in the 1800s (Bloom & Willard, 2002, p. 13). By this time, black players had freedom to play without any problem. As a matter of fact, they were also competing well with whites in professional baseball. After this period, they were forced to curve out their separate world as far as professional baseball is concerned. This meant that black teams were only left to face local semi professional teams (Lanctot, 2004, p. 9).

Racial segregation in baseball was not taken care of for a long time. In addition, it was referred to as a gentleman’s agreement. This means that there was no written policy as far as the highest level of the games management was concerned. There was no need for any formal agreement because they were keeping in line with social customs and laws (Lanctot, 2004, p. 13). Popular preferences implied that there was no way a black person and white person could associate.

They further argued that even nature can not allow any association to happen (Bloom & Willard, 2002, p. 13). This situation got worse with African Americans being banned from major baseball clubs. In addition, formal bans existed in the minor baseball league. This situation was made worse when the international league voted to prohibit the signing of black players. As a matter of fact, it paved the way for the adoption of racism in baseball. The international league continued being all white until the entry of Jackie Robinson in 1946.

This means that the color line was breached when Royal Montreal signed him (Jackie Robinson). He was signed in 1945 with the support of Chandler. Although he risked losing his job as a commissioner (Chandler), he saw no need of excluding blacks from professional baseball yet they fought together in World War 2. After being called up to the Dodgers, Jackie got to a slow start with numerous death threats (Lanctot, 2004, p. 17). Not withstanding, his athleticism and skillful playing earned him the first ever award. This is the Rookie of the year award.

As a matter of fact, this award is named in his honor. Jackie Robinson is in fact referred to as the first black player of the modern era in the history of major baseball. After breaking the baseball color line in 1947, he was very instrumental in bringing to an end racial segregation (Lanctot, 2004, p. 19). This is as far as professional baseball is concerned. His unquestionable talent and character changed the way blacks were viewed. Apart from this important cultural aspect, Jackie Robinson had an excellent and unrivaled baseball career (Lanctot, 2004, p. 23).

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He was later on inducted into the Baseball hall of fame. On the other hand, he was a symbol of racial integration of the American society. This can be mainly attributed to the breaking of the color barrier that had surrounded baseball for a long time. All this happened because of his courage, talent and good character. Other African American players were able to join major leagues as from 1947 because of their talent and determination (Bloom & Willard, 2002, p. 25). In fact, Robinson later acknowledged that he knew he was a black man in a white field.

The Augusta National Golf club was founded by Cliff Roberts and Bobby Jones. It is located in Augusta Georgia and it first opened for play in January 1933. The club is best known for its conservatism where decorum is paramount (Londino, 2006, p. 34). This means that integrity and tradition are jealously guarded. The club has been facing criticisms for its discriminatory and exclusive membership. This can be explained from Cliff Roberts believe that as long as he was alive, golf will continue being a white mans game (Londino, 2006, p. 34).

Golf was mainly a white mans game in the US. This has later on changed with the entry of Tiger Woods in the scene. He became the first ever African American to win a major professional golf championship (Londino, 2006, p. 9). As a matter of fact, he became the youngest ever person (at 21) to win the prestigious master golf tournament. This was in Augusta Georgia. By doing this, he surprised every body who believed that a black person could not make such a breakthrough in professional golf.

The confident Tiger Woods grew up playing golf in Cypress, CA (Londino, 2006, p. 4). He never believed in perceptions that had been created by people about blacks in professional golf. In addition, he believed in himself and knew that nobody could stop him from doing what he wanted to do. Despite all the perceptions about tradition and culture, Woods was confident about his ability. For a long time, black people could not be admitted in golf clubs as players. They only worked as caddies (Londino, 2006, p. 13).

In fact, Augusta National Golf club admitted its fist black golfer in 1990 (Londino, 2006, p. 4). This has been on an upward trend as time goes by with Tiger Woods implying that Augusta can take anybody who is humble and confident. Tiger Woods win at Augusta is bigger than sports and in fact a major breakthrough for blacks in professional golf (Londino, 2006, p. 44). This victory has later reignited the pride and spirit of Jackie Robinsons win in major league baseball.

Tiger Woods breakthrough and victory at Augusta has had a good historical impact. This relates well with Jesse Owens win at the 1936 Olympics. Another inspiration is Arthur Ashes win at the Wimbledon tennis championship in 1975. Woods credited his historic win and victory at Augusta to previous black players like Charlie Sifford and Lee Elder (Londino, 2006, p. 39).

Although Woods admits that he was the first ever black to win the title at Augusta, he was not the pioneer. Charlie Sifford and Lee Elder paved the way for Woods in the game by laying a good foundation albeit with a lot of difficulties. In fact, Elder was the first black pioneer golfer to play in the masters (Londino, 2006, p. 74). Racial segregation in golf was widespread in early years but Elder had to withstand all this. Woods was always determined as he admitted that he had always dreamt of playing in the Masters and winning it.

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His spectacular win has later on opened doors for minority black players who had been denied the opportunity to advance their talents. This means that more blacks will be encouraged to play golf because all weird beliefs and traditions have been disapproved by Woods breakthrough (Londino, 2006, p. 54). Woods win was very impressive. This is because he won the prestigious golf championship at the predominantly white Club. As a matter of fact, the Augusta National club has two black members.

In acknowledging Woods win and victory, Elders admitted that it takes a lot of time to accomplish some other things. This also means that people will never turn their heads when a black man walks to the first tee. In early years, the world and specifically the US was not ready to accept a black champion (Londino, 2006, p. 87). This is because they were not welcomed in golf clubs and as a matter of fact needed guards to walk to the first tee (Londino, 2006, p. 64).

It should be understood that Woods was never given anything to go to the course but he was determined that he will make it no matter the situation. Although his father faced a lot of problems in supporting Woods to pursue professional golf, success was finally sealed with his emphatic win (Londino, 2006, p. 84).


Evolution of opportunities can be explained from the two breakthroughs of Jackie Robinson in professional baseball and Tiger Woods in professional golf. The two have made it in areas that were thought to be out of reach for blacks. Although blacks were not accepted in such games, their talent and determination could not be ignored. This was also enhanced by a good character that made people to accept them and disapprove history. Tiger Woods and Jackie Robinson were determined to make it no matter the situation and when good opportunities came they seized it to their advantage. This means that their talent was exceptional and that is why they have been successful.

Reference list

Bloom, J., & Willard, M. N. (2002). Sports matters, race, recreation, and culture. New York: University Press.

Lanctot, N. (2004). Negro League Baseball: the rise and ruin of a black institution. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Londino, L, J. (2006). Tiger Woods: A Biography. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.

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