- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Masters Tournament is called that as a reference to slavery and Jim Crow, a prominent ESPN sportswriter implied Tuesday.

L.Z. Granderson, in the context of a CNN “New Day” discussion of sports teams dropping Kate Smith’s iconic recording of “God Bless America” because the 1930s star recorded racist material, dropped a serious of rhetorical questions about the name of golf’s most famous tournament and the iconic course in Augusta, Georgia.

The tournament, Mr. Granderson said accurately enough, was founded in 1934 in a Jim Crow state by two local men (amateur champion Bobby Jones and investment banker Clifford Roberts) with the conventional views of white Southerners at the time.

Although it was first called the Augusta National Invitational (it adopted the name “the Masters Tournament” in 1939), Mr. Granderson broadly hinted, without exactly saying, that it was called “Masters” to celebrate slavery.

“We celebrated Tiger Woods recently returning back to glory winning at the Masters. We didn’t spend very much time asking ourselves, ‘Why was this tournament called the Masters in Augusta, Georgia, founded by two men that we know, in fact, were racist, who are quoted saying racist things?’ Ever wonder why it was called the Masters?” he said, without answering the idea he was planting in his listeners heads.

Mr. Granderson is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN The Magazine and a co-host of “SportsNation” on ESPN.

The word “master” is used in numerous sporting and gaming contexts to mean people whose achievements have won them prominence or status. The Masters is an invitation-only event, with the invites given according to published criteria to ensure only the world’s best golfers play. It thus has a smaller field than golf’s other three major tournaments.

Among the 22 other noun definitions at dictionary.com of “master” besides “owner of a slave” is “a person eminently skilled in something, as an occupation, art, or science.”

Mr. Granderson took to Twitter to double down on his speculation, calling it a “fair” question because Georgia is racist.

“The co-founder of an event based in Georgia that, until 2001, flew a flag that was designed to ‘preserve segregation and white supremacy’ (via its own Senate) says ‘as long as I’m alive, all the golfers will be white and all the caddies will be black,’ I think it’s fair to ask,” he wrote, following it with a “shrugging” emoji.

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