April 2007 is the sixtieth anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking into the major leagues (the subject of my 1996 National Review article "How Jackie Robinson Desegregated America") and the 10th anniversary of Tiger Woods monumental 12 shot victory in the Masters.
Ten years and counting
By Michael Arkush, Yahoo! Sports
Tiger Woods' 12-shot triumph at the 1997 Masters was about more than one man conquering a golf course and his competition. It was about a member of a race long mistreated capturing one of the sport's most prized possessions - the green jacket - for the first time. It was also about hope.
The Masters, which did not have an African-American participant until Lee Elder in 1975, would never be the same. Nor, presumably, would the game itself. Soon there would be other blacks to join Woods on the PGA Tour, surely within 10 years.
Well, it has been 10 years since Woods' historic win, and he is still the only black golfer on the PGA Tour.
Here are my two articles from April 2003 explaining this historic non-trend:
Similarly, African-American participation in baseball is constantly declining. As I explained in my 1996 National Review article "Great Black Hopes:"
Similarly, a group can tire of a career or pastime even if its members tend to be better than their rivals, if they enjoy more glittering opportunities elsewhere. This helps explain the strange tale of blacks and baseball over the last few decades. Within pro baseball, integration has caused segregation by position. The Negro Leagues starred legendary pitchers like Satchel Paige and catchers like Josh Gibson, but African-American Major Leaguers now concentrate primarily in the outfield, where their edge in speed counts most.
Even more unexpectedly, after African-Americans fled Southern segregation, they began specializing in basketball and football at the expense of what had long been their favorite game. Pundits often blame a shortage of baseball diamonds in the inner city. Yet, immigrants from rural Mexico haven't forsaken fastballs for free throws. More astute observers point to the decline of patriarchy in the black ghettos, since a love of baseball is best passed on by fathers playing catch with sons. Perhaps most important, however, is that black Americans have found baseball, with its straight-line baserunning, less suited for expressing their creativity than basketball or football.