“I was trembling when I hit send but it was worth it to open some minds to the conversation.” – Peter Malnati
Well, then why did you send it, Peter?
Because people like you want to lecture the rest of us on all things large and small.
Last Sunday, while the PGA Tour was getting ready to wrap up its season, Peter Malnati, a 30-year-old journeyman pro who has bounced between the big tour and its minor-league little brother, the Web.com Tour, broke golf’s silence, becoming the first player to openly share his thoughts on President Trump’s “son of a bitch” comment directed at NFL players taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem as a sign of protest.
Malnati posted a thoughtful, heartfelt statement on Twitter that said, in part, “So when players take a knee today during the national anthem, and the gut reaction of so many people is to call them a ‘son of a bitch,’ I ask you, what do you stand for? As for me, I stand for freedom. I stand for ‘justice for all.’ I stand for equality, for empathy and for compassion.”
The reaction to the post, particularly in a sport that doglegs hard to the right politically, was more than Malnati was prepared for, even though his statement wasn’t about Republican, Democrat or race. It was about having a conversation, he said.
“I didn’t know the 640th-ranked golfer talking about that was going to explode the way it did,” he toldon Tuesday. “I got a heck of a lot of blowback. The scope of it all, just wow, I should’ve had the foresight to see. I knew it would be big but I didn’t realize it would be this big.
“The statement wasn’t about getting myself attention but it turned into that. That’s the only regret I have. I wanted the message to get attention.”
It certainly did, with 759 retweets, 1,818 likes and 288 comments for a player who has less than 9,000 followers. Malnati heard directly from several in and around the game, too. The messages were a mix of positive, negative and at times surprising, with some thanking Malnati for saying what he did because they felt they couldn’t. But the latter was among the minority of responses, however, as you might imagine.
Why did he decide to go public with his thoughts in the first place?
“I had seen several in my world, the golf world, with harsh things to say that sort of echoed the words of our president, being very harsh and very negative,” he said. “My objective was, if you can consider what might motivate someone to kneel, if that question was ever asked and considered then maybe we’d come up with a healthy talking point or two. But there was an emotional reaction to ‘son of a bitch.’ People can’t overcome that part of it, and I think it’s important we try to, that we as a society think beyond a gut reaction.”
As strongly as he feels about the topic, though, Malnati said he had “huge” hesitation in posting the statement. He is self-aware and knows his audience.
“I was scared to death,” he continued. “Even though I felt I was extremely clear with my statement, there are people who can’t separate that it wasn’t a statement against the military or the national anthem. I’m so supportive of the military and thankful for the people who fight for our freedom. I was trembling when I hit send but it was worth it to open some minds to the conversation.”
The conversation is an uncomfortable one in golf, however. Few players reacted publicly and whenreached out to several of them about Malnati’s comments, and the topic at large, almost none of them wanted to touch it, even anonymously or off the record — though Brendan Steele did say it was a “courageous” decision by Malnati to speak out the way he did and that he applauded him for doing so, “supporting him 100 percent.”
The largely deafening silence from most hardly came as a surprise to Malnati, who also understood why his peers wouldn’t voice their opinion out in the open, particularly given how sponsor-dependent the game is.
“How can I blame them?” he said. “I don’t begrudge anyone for not doing it publicly.”
He also wanted to add another point in the aftermath.
“I think it’s important to note the ideas I believe in that are being [supported by] protests by NFL players and others, they don’t affect us in golf,” he said. “We’re a homogenous world.”
So much so that an incident from a couple of years ago struck a chord with Malnati and helped shape his thinking. He was registering for a tournament and was given the registration form by a volunteer. The player next to him, who is black, was informed that caddie registration was outside.
Malnati doesn’t cast blame on the volunteer as being racist so much as the unconscious bias that exists in society, he said. Golf is, by fact, a largely white sport.
“I don’t the think PGA Tour has a problem in that regard, but I played golf at my club this morning and there’s not a lot of diversity out there,” he said. “I think there is a problem. It’s pretty undeniable to say there’s not equal opportunity in golf.”
That said, Malnati wanted to emphasize his earlier statement wasn’t about political persuasion, or race, rather a gateway to larger, underlying issues that have bubbled over. He has just only one regret.
“My words at the end of my statement weren’t an entirely accurate description,” he said. “I kneel to the ideas of greed and hubris and power. Those are the trademark characteristics important to our President. Every action he has made has been about greed and power.
“This isn’t a statement about politics, conservative versus liberal. It’s not about the military. This is about basic human rights.”
Earth to Peter…We don’t care what you think. You are a golfer. Keep your mouth shut and play golf. And since you opened this can of worms, here’s my take: the NFL and its players aren’t just wrong, they’re dead wrong. If a PGA Tour player- ANY player- tries the same crap at a PGA Tour event that Kaepernick has done he will be through as a tour player. It might take a little time but it will be the beginning of the end for his golf career. – The Head Fanatic