August 27, 2008

LPGA Tour will suspend memberships if players don't learn English: The LPGA will require its member golfers to learn and speak English and will suspend their membership if they don't comply.

posted by BornIcon to golf at 09:35 AM - 34 comments

I do believe the US government could take a note here from this one in reference to citizenship in our country...but as far as the LPGA goes, this is outta line. Why can't those girls get a translator like that tree sized chinese basketball player? I don't think you need english in order to have good golf.

posted by Bleedinbluno2 at 10:20 AM on August 27, 2008

This is a terrible decision. The LPGA should be the league for the best female golfers in the world, not the best female English-speaking golfers in the world.

I can understand trying to encourage the influx of foreign golfers to speak English to market themselves and the sport better, but putting an English-only requirement on the league devalues it.

posted by rcade at 10:26 AM on August 27, 2008

This is great news. If they want our money learn our lanquage. This should be a lesson to our government. Make english our official lanquage.

posted by dabicohio at 10:27 AM on August 27, 2008

This is great news. If they want our money learn our lanquage. This should be a lesson to our government. Make english our official lanquage. You keep using this "our" word. I don't think it means what you think it means. (Unless you're including yourself in that set of small-minded bigots that raise themselves up on their furry hind legs and start bleating every time a question of language comes up.)

posted by joaquim at 11:36 AM on August 27, 2008

I don't believe the LPGA is doing a ton of marketing in or getting much sponsorship money from the Asian Rim, but many of the Tour's better players are coming from the area.

It makes sense for the Tour to make sure its players are able to:

* give interviews * appear at corporate functions * speak with fans

I do agree this seems a bit heavy-handed, but I also don't know that the LPGA hasn't been trying and failing through other channels to get non-English speakers to learn English.

As for those calling for government to make English the official U.S. language -- careful what you wish for (or more correctly, "Be careful for what you wish."). I'd say about 90% of citizens couldn't pass an eighth-grade grammar test.

Or, to paraphrase Ralph Wiggum:

Americans fail English? That's entirely possible!

posted by wfrazerjr at 11:37 AM on August 27, 2008

I can't respect a sports league that is not committed to having the best players it can. I didn't realize that it was an American tour that was just permitting international players to play.

posted by bperk at 12:13 PM on August 27, 2008

This is a potential disaster for the LPGA, especially with the strength of the Asia economy AND the Asian players on tour, who, one gathers, are the main targets of this. Lori Kane, the Canadian LPGA pro, makes some good points, especially about the cultural factors in South Korean players that may make them reluctant to speak what English they may know. From todays (can we pretty please have the html buttons back?)

"We are an international tour," said Kane. "The players that are playing the best are international players. And their play alone should help raise the level of the tour, which it is."

Instead of instituting a rule forcing golfers to pass an English test, Kane would prefer to see the tour do a better job of stressing the importance of communication to its foreign players. She believes that many of the South Koreans, in particular, know more English than they currently feel comfortable speaking in public and could be convinced to try harder.

That's an opinion she shares with good friend Se Ri Pak. Those two women had a conversation last week and agreed that some of the other South Korean players need to come out of their shell a bit more.

"There's a group of younger players who all they want to do is play golf," said Kane. "To show emotion and be engaging, they think it may affect their psyche. We know that that's just not the case.

"It can't be that way to continue to sell our product."

posted by rumple at 02:56 PM on August 27, 2008

The LPGA needs to put its emphasis on developing American talent.

posted by Landis at 03:04 PM on August 27, 2008

You know, if the LPGA wants to successfully market in non-English speaking countries, perhaps they should actually make the requirement that all golfers on the tour should be able to speak every language of every country in which they'd like to promote women's golf. That way, no matter where the ladies are playing, they can do interviews - which, of course, is the primary skill a golfer should have.

Indeed, if more golfers spent more time practicing their language skills and less time, you know, golfing, I think the sport would take off by leaps and bounds.

posted by Joey Michaels at 03:21 PM on August 27, 2008

Historically the language of the international business world has been and is English. Having said that the LPGA is dead wrong here.

posted by budman13 at 03:28 PM on August 27, 2008

Historically the language of the international business world has been and is English

Before that it was French, before that it was Latin. In any language this is dum dum dum.

posted by yerfatma at 04:34 PM on August 27, 2008

And it may be a flavour of Chinese in my lifetime.

posted by rodgerd at 05:56 PM on August 27, 2008

When I arrived in West Berlin in 1982 right out of the Infantry School at Fort Benning Ga, like all new members of The Berlin Brigade, I went through a two-week indoctrination called the School Of Standards. There was a lot of different stuff taught there, German and Berlin history, specific rules governing our occupation status, how to deal with the Soviets, etc.

But the most time, every afternoon of the two weeks, was given over to learning the basics of the German language. The Army thought it very important that we at least were able to get around the city without appearing to be idiots.

But there's only so much you get in 40 hours, and for probably the first year I was there I was very reluctant to carry on a conversation in German, even though I also had one semester of German in college. I knew I was butchering syntax and sentence structure and it was embarrassing to be giggled at.

My main point here is that I, too, have been a stranger in a strange land. I find the reluctance of these young women to speak bad English in front of a news crew and a camera perfectly understandable. I'm sure most of the "speak the language or go home" honks here have never had that experience.

All that being said, the LPGA has a product to sell, and personalites drive that. I understand their frustration with top players who cannot, or will not, express themselves at all in English.

Oh, and for bleedinbluno2 (the fist poster), a working knowledge of English IS required to become a US citizen unless you're old or mentally handicapped (usually reserved for close relatives, like a child or a parent, of a citizen).

All this worrying about everybody speaking the same language, it seems to me, makes you sound awfully FRENCH. And, yes, I do mean that as a deadly insult. My internationalism only goes so far.

posted by gradioc at 06:42 PM on August 27, 2008

Will the requirement extend to those players for whom English is allegedly their mother tongue? Will they stop telling me that they "played real good"? Will they learn how to form a sentence without using the word "like"? I like totally doubt it.

posted by JJ at 06:53 PM on August 27, 2008

Before that it was French, before that it was Latin. In any language this is dum dum dum.

Correctamundo on all counts.

posted by budman13 at 07:02 PM on August 27, 2008

Though it would be nice for everybody to know english, this is a free country and freedom of speech is one of our many God-given rights. We as Americans should be the ones learning other languages instead of being too stubborn to learn anything but english. You will get much further by learning another language and if you don't want to learn another language, respect those who do. On the other hand though if this rule is allowed, then I doubt that it would affect many people because in most countries where english is not the first or official language, many if not most of the people know english or some other language other then there first. It would be wrong and a humiliation to the LPGA if this rule is put into action so just let them all play.

posted by sox1903 at 11:44 PM on August 27, 2008

freedom of speech is one of our many God-given rights

If that's the case, then she's gone AWOL in plenty of places around the world.

posted by owlhouse at 02:29 AM on August 28, 2008

I don't see where all the hub-bub is coming from. The players quoted in the article didn't really seem to mind the future expectations of the LPGA. Plus, the rule couldn't be enforced until late 2009, so there is plenty of time to learn enough english to appease the sponsors.

There does seem to be a benefit for the players as well. A bigger/happier market for the LPGA = more money/sponsors for the players.

posted by BoKnows at 03:01 AM on August 28, 2008

I blame Sandra Post.

I understand the organiser's desire for players to do press conferences in English, but the LPGA needs to keep in mind just how international an organisation it has become.

In the 2008 season, more than 30% of the events on the LPGA Tour will be played outside the US. Of the 185 playing members of the tour who have so far made a cheque in 2008, 121 of them are "international" players [list of them here - .pdf]. Even if you discount the 27 players from Australia, South Africa, Canada and the UK, that's still more than half the players on the tour for whom English is not their mother tongue.

The money list hasn't been topped by an American since Betsy King in 1993. Julie Inkster is the only American in the top five of the all time money winners on the tour.

It's an international tour now, and it's only going to become more so. I'd be interested to see how the legal battle would pan out if the LPGA ever did try to implement this and throw someone out because they couldn't speak English.

posted by JJ at 05:43 AM on August 28, 2008

Good aim, wrong process.

Let the sponsors with the big bucks make some public additions to the purse for those who are articulate and speak English well. Then see how interested others are in learning English so they too may be 'rewarded'.

'catch more flies with honey, .......'

posted by Fly_Piscator at 08:55 AM on August 28, 2008

Can someone please give me a quote from a LPGA player (non-english speaking preferably) who is upset or outraged by this rule change? The comments here don't seem to match the article at all.

Plus, JJ, they are not going to throw a player out of the LPGA.

posted by BoKnows at 01:23 PM on August 28, 2008

Since the only language I can read is English, I wouldn't even know how to find a quote on this topic from a non-English speaking player.

posted by Joey Michaels at 03:42 PM on August 28, 2008

Nice catch JM, but any quote from any player opposed to or not understanding the LPGA's motives would do.

posted by BoKnows at 04:04 PM on August 28, 2008

Why does it matter BoKnows? Since when do we have to wait for an opinion from players before we have one of our own?

posted by bperk at 04:47 PM on August 28, 2008

Thanks for the article, bperk. Interesting that the quotes are from an english-speaking player.

It matters to me because if the players are fine with it, then I don't understand the discussion involving some unspeakable act of ridiculousness put in place by the LPGA. The bottom line for everyone involved is money. Whether it be the LPGA, sponsors or players, they all stand to possibly make more money by having the ability to market their players to the english speaking world. How many players wouldn't want to do commercials for Callaway, Taylor Made or Titleist being shown on US network TV? Very few, if any is my guess. From there the money to be made can easily snowball.

In my eyes, if the non-english speaking players by majority don't mind the rule, and intend to upgrade their international language skills for the sake of success, then I most certainly do not mind either.

And bperk, I also don't have a problem with any of spofi forming an opinion on their own. It just seems that a lot of the comments here are more in reference to asinine newbie statements and not the players response, which does in fact happen to be the subject of the article.

posted by BoKnows at 05:41 PM on August 28, 2008

This is saddest day in LPGA history and it shows that they are still living in Stone Age when people used to believe golf is only belong to white race and one who has privilege to play. LPGA is finally showing their true color of the fact that the organization is still rooted with racial bias philosophy and hatred against foreigners.

Last 3 to 4 years, LPGA has been dominated by Asian players; mostly from Korea and basically LPGA decided they no longer want to see any Asian players in their league by creating rules that it has nothing to do with playing sport. If you are Asian-American or person with right conscious mind, Id recommend boycott LPGA. Shame on you LPGA!

posted by choinc at 07:06 PM on August 28, 2008

This isn't race related. This isn't what you speak. This is America and as our forefathers, we came here from everywhere but we decided that our freedom of speech would be english. I believe we should hold on to our culture before we lose everything we ever stood for.

posted by ormondbiker at 08:11 PM on August 28, 2008

I believe we should hold on to our culture before we lose everything we ever stood for.

Please tell me that you don't believe the LPGA bylaws have that much power in society today.

posted by BoKnows at 08:45 PM on August 28, 2008

Nice try Ormondbiker, but you have to realize Spanish could possibly be our official language and I have no problem with that even though I'm Korean-American. K.J. Park, world 3rd ranked player in PGA said today in ENGLISH, "If PGA adopted same rule 4 years ago, I wouldn't be here playing golf in U.S". Under same rule, Cabrera from Spain who won PGA US open last year might been suspended. Or, he might not have played at all.

posted by choinc at 08:50 PM on August 28, 2008

If we don't force Korean golfers playing in the Mizuno Classic in Japan to speak English, then soon Americans won't be able to get jobs in their own countries. Yes, we must protect the Grand China Air LPGA Tournament, the KOLON Championship 2008, the Loreno Ochoa International, the Lexus Cup 2008, and most especially the Evian Masters from foreign speakers at all costs.

It is in the best interest of the LPGA, it is in the best interest of America.

Since, as I demonstrated through those links, golf is strictly an American game.

posted by Joey Michaels at 11:42 PM on August 28, 2008

Is this really coming from pressure by corporate sponsors? All of the sponsors market their products throughout Asia, and a large number of them are Asian-based and owned. English, while important for conducting business in the region, is not crucial for product placements, ads on TV, or billboards.

As a side note, I can't imagine Evian requiring all that all players at their sponsored tournament speak French.

posted by owlhouse at 12:56 AM on August 29, 2008

Plus, JJ, they are not going to throw a player out of the LPGA.

Sorry, Bo. I was using the word "out" in the sense that it is antonymical to the word "in", which is what a suspension would stop you from being as far as I can gather.

I suspect the lact of outspoken players has a lot to do with the fact that although the foreign ones might not speaka dee England good enough for the sponsors, they're mostly smart enough to know that being publically critical of your sport's organising body - no matter how discriminatory and ridiculous that organising body is being - isn't going to land you any new deals either.

"For an athlete to be successful in the sports entertainment world we live in, they need to be great performers on and off the course, and being able to communicate effectively with sponsors and fans is a big part of this," said the LPGA's deputy commissioner Libba Galloway.

The monkey has strangled the organ grinder and is now dancing around on the top of the piano in a panic wondering why it won't play. This whole thing is fucktardedness of the highest order. No player is bigger than the game, and neither is an organising body.

posted by JJ at 06:36 AM on August 29, 2008

Players who don't learn our language lessen their opportunities to earn big bucks in endorsement contracts. Like it or not, the business of the world is English, but it's a free country (for now) and no player should be forced to learn English in order to continue playing.

posted by blusportie at 12:17 AM on August 30, 2008

LPGA backs off English only rule.

That was surprisingly fast.

posted by Joey Michaels at 07:59 PM on September 05, 2008

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