It started with a sticker.
American golfer Kirk Triplett showed up at this year’s Senior Players Championship in Ohio with the Black Lives Matter logo on his bag. A gesture that gained widespread attention — especially when social media swept into action.
“People are speaking out and saying very positive things. Thanks for standing up, thanks for saying something,” Triplett told CNN Sport.
“We really appreciate your story and getting some of these anecdotal stories from people both White and Black about experiences that they’ve had and the more of those kind of things that we hear and that we share, I think the better we all understand each other.
“So for me overall, I’ve been kind of surprised and feel pretty good about that the outreach and the things that people have told me.”
Passion for adoption
For Triplett, the matter is deeply personal.
The three-time PGA Tour winner and wife Cathi are the proud parents of four children.
“We have twin boys that are 24, they are biological. We have a daughter who is 20 and a son who is 18 and they’re both adopted. Our daughter is Hispanic and our son is half African-American, half Japanese,” the 58 year-old revealed before sharing more on the family’s passion for adoption.
“When you see our family out around town, you know exactly what we’re all about. Raising a family and trying to teach kids the right way to do things and trying to give them opportunity in the same way our parents gave us opportunities.
“So it’s a great story, adoption. There’s some difficulties at times, but there’s difficulties with your biological kids, too. But it is a great story. Great for the kids. It’s great for the families. And more important, it’s great for the community.”
Triplett describes his 18-year-old son Kobe as a “typical” teenager for his age.
“I think he faces the same challenges any young African-American male faces, just sort of an uncertainty from the world around him,” says Triplett.
“Looking at him based on what he looks like, if he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time, what’s going to happen?
“Is this situation going to escalate or is he going to have the ability to kind of manage it and control it and let it de-escalate a little bit?
“But I guess my fear, or my what bothers me, is why should that be his responsibility? Why should he be the one that has to make it slow down and make people react a different way? That shouldn’t be his responsibility. That should be the system’s responsibility.”
‘I understand and I agree with you’
This year has seen some of the biggest names in sports take a stance against police brutality and social injustice in the US — including global megastars like Lebron James of the Los Angeles Lakers.
It was also a year that saw the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ painted on the courts inside the Orlando bubble and when the season re-started almost all players kneeling during the US national anthem.
Triplett says that due to his family situation he has just a “very unique, small sliver of understanding about what some of the African-American community is going through.”
As an avid consumer of news events, he says that recent tragedies have hit him hard.
The American, who’s also now an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour Champions, says it was never his attention to try and change people’s minds or even make a “big statement.”
However, there is one powerful point he’s at pains to get across.
“I think first and foremost, my message is to the African-American community that here I am in a demographic that you think is not hearing what you’re saying. And I’m hearing it. And I understand and I agree with you,” he says.
“Well, now, where do we go now? Now what do we do? And there are more people like me. Most of them just don’t put stickers on their bags.”
More to do
Earlier this year, the PGA Tour said it expected to raise over $100 million towards racial and social injustice causes over the next decade — a move Triplett welcomes.
“The golf demographic is a great demographic, right? It’s people are educated, people are affluent. People are committed to charitable work. They want to make the world a better place and I think the world of golf can help. “
That being said, he feels there’s still much work to be done.
“I think nobody’s doing enough yet but we are making some progress. I like what the Tour has done. The Tour has some very good people that are involved in this process,” he adds.
“It’s easy to just sort of earmark some money and hope you make a difference. The Tour is investigating ways to make sure that they do more than that and I’m looking forward very much to being a participant in those programs.
“We want it to be more than you’ll put a sticker on the bag or throw money at a cause. We don’t want to decide what to do with it. We want help and we want partnership. We want the African-American community to let us know what to do.”