Impressive coverage and diverse views continue to dominate the LPGA's English-only rule coverage, which appears widespread and mostly not positive: Dan Barnes writes:
It should be noted that the message from commissioner Carolyn Bivens was delivered to the Korean players in spoken English. There was nothing presented to them on paper or, heaven forbid, in their own language. How much got lost in translation? Plenty. Some Korean players told Golfweek, the website that broke the story, they believe they will lose their cards permanently if they can't pass the test.And...
It's all about sponsorship, something Korean golfer Jeong Jang figured out a while ago. She told Golfweek about Cristie Kerr's acceptance speech after she won the 2005 Michelob Ultra Open.
"First thing she said to the camera was, 'I need a beer.' I still remember that. Sponsors must be proud."
Oh yeah, that was a proud Kodak moment, all right. And there could be so many more, if the LPGA's dialectal directive has its desired effect on the international membership. When Soo-Yun Kang wins the McDonald's LPGA Championship in 2009, provided she has taken all her English lessons, she can step in front of the camera and say, "I need a massive influx of fat and calories, so hand me a Big Mac.''
Now that would be a mouthful in any language.The LPGA wants Koreans to speak passable English but the Tour's own leadership can't communicate that fact to the players with anything approaching clarity. How's that for irony?
Leonard Shapiro calls the English-only rule "draconian, xenophobic and seemingly discriminatory." He also writes:
What if the tables were turned and you were sent to a foreign country to conduct your own business, only to be told that unless you learned Korean, or Japanese or Spanish you'd be out of a job? Could you do it in two years, while also putting in 50-hour or longer work weeks? Five years? Ever?
There is more than a little irony here as well. Women golfers around the globe, and particularly in the U.S., have been discriminated against for years. They've been unable to join certain clubs as full members, prohibited from teeing off on weekends until 1 p.m., told that the men's grill was truly boys only and totally off limits and totally excluded from any membership at all in places like Augusta National, Pine Valley and Burning Tree.
And now one of the most powerful women's sports organizations in the world is actually going to discriminate against some of its very own international female members because they're not proficient in English? It's absurd, it's dead wrong and clearly contrary to the Olympic ideal that rewards only the fastest and the strongest, not the athlete who gives the best press conference for the American media.Ron Sirak shares this from an LPGA player agent:
"Next year there will be LPGA events in Thailand, Singapore, China, Korea and Japan and the tour has said it has its eye on India and the Middle East as well," notes another agent who also asked that his name not be used. "Will Americans who win in those countries be expected to give their speech in the local language?"Jay Coffin says "good idea, poor execution" but also writes that "Suspension is too harsh a penalty. An LPGA card is earned from talent, now that status can be taken away for a reason other than talent. There’s something fundamentally wrong with this concept."
Alan Shipnuck considers the legality of the rule.
So-called English-only rules in the workplace are an emerging body of law; the Supreme Court has yet to weigh in. One high-profile recent case, still pending, centered on a Connecticut sheet-metal factory that made English compulsory. The attorney for the workers, Steven D. Jacobs, tells GOLF.com: "Over the last 10 years, there have been a number of decisions in this area, and the courts have consistently decreed that it is permissible for an employer to mandate English-only for two narrow reasons: safety" — air-traffic control being an obvious example — "and efficiency" — such as telephone customer service.
"And that's it," Jacobs continued. "With regards to the LPGA, safety is obviously a non-factor. So the issue becomes, is the language a player speaks fundamental to the competition? I would not want to be the one who has to make that case."Jon Show at Sports Business Daily counters with this:
LPGA Deputy Commissioner Libba Galloway said the policy was vetted with attorneys familiar with workplace laws. “Legal businesses and membership organizations have the right to make certain requirements that are fundamental to their businesses,” Galloway said. A formal copy of the policy was not available, said Galloway, because it will not be finalized until the end of this year.Can't wait for the day that's leaked!
Larry Dorman says the "policy has touched an international nerve" and writes:
Because of the manner in which the information seeped out, and because the L.P.G.A. tour has not finished drafting a written version of the policy, the organization has been both pilloried and praised around the globe.
If the L.P.G.A. hoped to use this as a trial balloon, it has plenty of material to wade through before a final document is forged. Harrington, for example, raised many questions those in the L.P.G.A.’s headquarters in Daytona Beach, Fla., might want to consider.
“Do you have to pass an exam?” said Harrington, an Irishman who has won three of the last six major championships. “Surely if you can say hello, that’s English. Is that good enough? Who draws the line about how many words you’ve got to know in English?
“Obviously some people are natural talkers and some people aren’t. What if you have a person who genuinely struggles with learning new language, they have a learning disability? That’s tough to ask somebody with a learning disability who might have found golf as the saving grace in their life, to ask them to learn a different language or else you can’t play.”And it didn't take long for the satirical columns to start. Bill Nichols in the Dallas Morning News:
As a public service, here are five more requirements for LPGA consideration:
•Minimum score of 1,350 on the SAT or 31 on the ACT
•2,000-word essay on character construction in Finnegan's Wake
•Minimum height of 5-3, maximum height of 5-10
•Change a flat tire in 20 minutes (using an American car, of course)
•Look like Natalie Gulbis