April 4, 2012

Decline of the Black Caddie

To get ready for the 2012 Masters, the New York Times has an article on why there are so few black caddies anymore: "Treasure of Golf’s Sad Past, Black Caddies Vanish in Era of Riches."

I wrote basically the same article nine years ago to get ready for the 2003 Masters: "Decline of the Black Caddie." (And here's my 2003 companion piece: "Decline of the Black Golf Pro.")

If you are interested in the topic, I'd invite you to compare and contrast the two articles on black caddies to see which one is more coherent and draws out more implications from the topic. Think of it as a test of worldviews: the conventional one of the New York Times versus mine. Whose perspective makes for more interesting thinking?

I'd probably sum up my approach as "empathy without sentimentality." By nature, I'm highly sentimental, so I've had to train myself to avoid thinking that way. What I'm good at is putting myself in other people's shoes, seeing the incentive structures they face, and thus how they feel. 

I don't reason well from the abstract to the particular. But I have a good memory, so I can usually think of examples to get started in noticing larger patterns. And because I like to notice patterns, and don't believe noticing patterns is evil, I'm better at remembering examples because they either support a thesis or contradict it. If an example contradicts my thesis, then it either is what I like to call an "exception that supports the tendency" (e.g., that 6'8" Brittney Griner is famous for being a woman basketball player who dunks suggests that women basketball players seldom dunk), it's just an anomaly, or, most profitably, it suggests that the thesis needs work and that there might well be a better thesis out there somewhere that accounts both for the bulk of the examples and the exceptions.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Even though I disagree with a lot of your politics and find some of the conclusions you reach pretty distasteful, this is one of the reasons I don't write you off. Unlike most of your readers, you do have an empathy for your subjects You get, for example, the impossible position that middle class black guys get put in by being stereotyped as thugs by people who notice statistical patterns, even if you advocate solutions (find ways to dress that distinguish you from the underclass) that would horrify them.

Mr Driftwood said...

So, maybe personal question - have you Mr Sailer been dropped by UPI because of your un-PC public positions? That's a bit strange since I think you had expressed many of them in writing before 2003.

a Newsreader said...

I laughed when I read this: "what I like to call an exception that supports the tendency".

I thought you liked to call it an "exception that proves the rule".

Even iSteve needs to accommodate the ill-informed, I suppose.

Chris Anderson said...

Mr. Driftwood:

The answer should be obvious. Steve hasn't changed so much as what is acceptable to write in the mainstream media has changed.

Anonymous said...

middle class blacks don't dress thuggy but still get arrested and beaten up/followed/profiled. that's why they are upset. they dress to distinguish themselves and it isn't good enough and on top of that, idiots say they aren't doing that when they are and have done for decades.

guest007 said...

If anyone was paying attention they would have notice that there are fewer black pitchers in baseball for the same reason that there are few black golfers or tennis players.

One has to start early and get coaching to be a pitcher, a golfer, or a tennis player.

There are still many college football players who did not start playing until high school. However, there are no basketball players who can wait that long these days.

smead jolley said...

middle class blacks don't dress thuggy but still get arrested and beaten up/followed/profiled. that's why they are upset.

I guess you're just a troll, but no, this most emphatically does NOT happen to "middle-class blacks." If anything, the police go out of their way to avoid any contact with blacks absent an abiding need to do so, and this means that black people who are not conspicuously adversarial seldom have any contact at all with them. For example, between 1999 and 2010 I was on foot or the bus every single day around San Francisco and Berkeley, and saw exactly one (1) black motorist get stopped by the police. Turned out to be a thug in a stolen car.

not a hacker said...

@guest 007:

The reason there have been so few black baseball players since 1990 has nothing to with opportunity or the need to "start early." The actual reason is that baseball involves an apprenticeship, in which you have to take instruction from whites before you get to make significant money. The hip hop generation sees itself as completely exempt from white authority, and will not sit still for that. By contrast, in basketbal and football, you get the big money right away, and you can't be left in the minors. I'm reminded of Jim Frey's admonition to a recalcitrant Mike Norris when he was managing the A's: "I'll leave your ass in doube-A."

No Name said...

As long as I’m alive,” said Clifford Roberts, one of the club’s founders in 1933 and a longtime Masters chairman, “all the golfers will be white and all the caddies will be black.”

Steve according to Wikipedia this comment was made in 1975. The source: a 1997 SI article. Do you believe is accurate or is it just another made up Liberal MSM, "fake but accurate" quote?

Just curious if you have any info.

No Name said...

Here's an idea. Maybe there are only so many good black athletes (13% of population). And maybe everyone isn't a great athletic superman. And maybe they just like Football and Basketball better than Baseball and Golf. And maybe Blacks just do stuff and not do stuff cause they want to as opposed to doing things because of whites.

eh said...

At least they haven't been replaced by Mexicans.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, guest007, I guess all those starving Dominicans who survive the cut-throat baseball Darwinism there to make it to the majors are coached to a fare-thee-well!

Baseball is difficult. As the Michael Jordan experience showed, off-the-charts athleticism means very little on the diamond (Google Jonathan Broxton). A friend coaches high school baseball and has started losing kids to the lacrosse team. He had one kid in particular that he talks about, a sophomore with great size, hands, quickness and attitude, who just didn't have the baseball skills and quit in frustration. My friend saw the kid on the lacrosse field, and when he talked to the lacrosse coach, he was told that the kid would probably be all-state by his senior year.

Steve, re: Korean female golfers. Per Dan Jenkins in one of his books, it's due to the fact that they can turn pro in Korea at age 14. The talented players have a few years to hone their game in pro tournament play before they get to America.

David said...

Personally, I can't get past the example of the black guy in "Caddyshack" grinding Ted's golf boots into the polisher until they smoked. That was classic.

Lara said...

Your writing is more straightforward and sincere. Black people are not submissive by nature. They can be in these subservient roles and still manage to keep their pride. My grandmother remembers being down, scrubbing her kitchen floor, while her black maid stood there and told her where she missed a spot.

rjp said...

1) Do you think just maybe blacks stopped being caddies when the clubs started accepting black members? If so, then Whites didn't take black people jobs.

2) Could it be that at this point the game is too technical for blacks to competently handle club selection? - I don't know, I don't play.

3) Could it be that organized blackness has made a black person doing anything for a white person something to be shunned/ridiculed?

jody said...

i've been writing occassionally about the decline of the african comedian.

idealart said...

To No Name:

From answers.com:

"The first Black PGA pro golfer was Charlie Sifford in 1961. Mr. Sifford won two PGA Tour events during his career, as well as the 1975 PGA Seniors Championship. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004.

"He was followed by several prominent African-American golfers including Calvin Peete, Jim Thorpe, and Nathaniel Starks. Today, the only active African-American pro golfer is Tiger Woods, who is biracial."

Hippie-wiki at its finest.

Anonymous said...

rjp, many black people play a complex game rewarding memorization, pattern recognition and math up to algebra frequently for entertainment. they can handle 'club selection' for golf.