August 27, 2008, - 10:39 am

Three Cheers for the . . . LPGA?: Biz That Needs American Viewers Mandates ENGLISH

By Debbie Schlussel
Not being a fan of women’s sports–especially not the WNBA or LPGA–I never thought I’d be praising an organized women’s sports league, much less the organizer of the Dinah Shore Classic a/k/a America’s national lesbian convention in Palm Springs.
But the LPGA is doing something all American businesses–and actually all American institutions and organizations–should be doing:
Mandating English.
If you don’t speak English, you face suspension. Bravo! Or, in this case, I guess it’s, “Brava.” (Yes, I know, that word is Italian, but if you’re reading this, you know I speak English.)

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For many years, the LPGA tour has impressed upon its membership the significance of communicating efficiently in English. By the end of 2009, it will be mandatory.
The LPGA is adopting a policy that will require its member golfers to speak English or face suspension. All players who have been on the tour for two years could be suspended if they fail to pass an oral evaluation of their English proficiency starting at the end of the 2009 season. The tour announced the policy to its South Korean membership in a mandatory meeting Aug. 20 and has spoken to many players from other countries.
There are 121 foreign players from 26 countries, 45 from South Korea.
“We’re focusing on the fact that we’re in the sports entertainment business and we have to interact with fans and sponsors,” LPGA deputy commissioner Libba Galloway said. “We want to emphasize to our players that they need to be approachable.

Hillary Clinton didn’t speak in Spanish at last night’s Democratic National Communist Confab. And there’s a reason. The Dems know that Americans who speak English still command the ballot box (despite the many ballots printed in a gazillion languages–another travesty).
And the LPGA tour knows that people who consume its primary moneymaker–TV broadcasts–are still mostly English speakers.
But there’s another reason: Though the LPGA Tour has players fro many foreign countries, as noted above, the largest number of foreigners in the golf league are from South Korea.
And unlike what I call the “Jose Lobby”–La Raza, LULAC, and assorted other Hispanic organized whining orgies–the “Cho Lobby” just isn’t powerful enough yet. If they were–if Korean-Americans were as well-organized as Hispanic and Muslim lobbies–this rule would never fly.
But don’t worry, the Florida ACLU is on the case.
We should applaud the LPGA for doing the right thing, even if it wasn’t done for the right reasons (marketplace and money versus what’s good for America):

The LPGA policy says players who have been on the tour for two years can be suspended if they fail an oral evaluation of their English proficiency starting at the end of the 2009 season.
The tour provides tutoring and language-learning software to its players and will work with those who fail the test.
“It’s something that has been coming about gradually,” said LPGA deputy commissioner Libba Galloway, who added that only a few of the organization’s members can’t speak English. “We’re more of an international tour now, but we’re an American-based tour and the players need the tools to interact with fans and sponsors. One of those tools is to speak English.”
No major U.S. sports leagues, however, require players to speak English. Nor do the PGA Tour or ATP.
“We are proud to have tournaments in 30 countries and players from over 100 competing in them and have no plans to impose a common language on them,” ATP spokesman Kris Dent said.

Dumb move. The LPGA is making a smart move, regardless of what liberal lawyers try to do.

Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Florida, said a language requirement could be in violation of state law.
“Florida law prohibits discrimination in public accommodations,” he said. “They may well violate Florida discrimination laws because language is a key element of person’s national origin. People should be judged on their ability to perform a job. English fluency has no more to do with the ability to play 18 holes of golf than whether you walk 18 holes or ride 18 holes.”
Galloway, however, said the LPGA can stand its legal ground. “Organizations and businesses in general have the right to make requirements on skill sets necessary for their employers,” she said. “We as a membership organization have the right to establish obligations that our members must adhere to in order to do the things fundamental to conduct our business.”
One of those is to play pro-ams.
“If there is a language barrier hampering the pro-am experience, that hurts,” Pepper said. “You don’t want any barriers when it comes to what the LPGA does best, and that’s to interact with fans, sponsors and pro-am players.”
Seon Hwa Lee, the only Asian with multiple victories this year, works with an English tutor in the winter. She told Golfweek, which first reported the new policy Monday, her English is improving. “The economy is bad, and we are losing sponsors,” Lee said. “Everybody understands.”
The policy was endorsed by Kate Peters, tournament director of the LPGA State Farm Classic. “This is an American tour,” Peters said. “It is important for sponsors to be able to interact with players and have a positive experience.”

Exactly. Speaking English is a matter of survival. Not just for the LPGA Tour, but for America as we know and love it.

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5 Responses

If there is no English, there is no athletic excellence. If a competitor can’t speak English, she should take the time from her practice schedule to learn it.

EarlWestheimer on August 27, 2008 at 9:38 pm

[If there is no English, there is no athletic excellence.]
Posted by: EarlWestheimer
What kind of stupid comment is that? Have you right-wingers lost your brains? Oops, I guess you never had any to begin with.

Norman Blitzer on August 28, 2008 at 12:49 am

Sure, if you say so. It’s pathetic, watching these Asians run around playing our sports without even knowing our language. Why don’t you go watch a few more nine-year-olds jump around and get gold medals? Oops. I forgot that you’re a pederast.

EarlWestheimer on August 28, 2008 at 5:15 am

In my mind LPGA’s decision smacks of xenophobia.
I see, also, that Barack Obama wants everyone to learn a foreign language, but which one should it be?
The British learn French, the Australians study Japanese, and the Americans prefer Spanish.
Yet this leaves Mandarin Chinese out of the equation.
Interestingly nine British MP’s have nominated Esperanto for the Nobel Peace Prize 2008.
Detail can be seen at http://www.lernu.net

Brian Barker on August 31, 2008 at 10:38 am

So you thought the heavy-handed “speak English” mandate forwarded by shamefully (and laughably) deposed LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens was such a grand idea when she unveiled that nonsense last summer and unsuccessfully attempted to cram it down the Koreans collective throats, huh? lol Whatever sweetie, shows what you know for sure. The sponsorship issues, and they are great at the current time, that face the LPGA have much more to do with the fact that American women garner only about 30% of the wins on tour in a given season when they used to monopolize victory circle. No, Koreans and other foreign players could speak fluent English across the board and the LPGA would still have major money issues in this country as long as foreingers were the ones being interviewed with hardware in hand most Sunday evenings. LPGA officials definitely wanted to grow the tour internationally back in the 90s and that movement plain and simply overwhelmed them over time and, like many things in life, it’s always hard if not impossible to put the genie back in the bottle once it’s out. If you had told the LPGA stars of 1990 that 20 years later the tour would be dominated by foreigners, many of them Asians from South Korea, and that Americans would be struggling to produce a multiple-event winner in any given season they would have laughed at you for forwarding a scenario they would have found to be patently ridiculous. With that said with 2010 looming ever closer, reality, as it tends to do, speaks for itself.

Don on August 6, 2009 at 3:38 am

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