LPGA's ridiculous new rule requiring golfers to know English or be expelled

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ha! I didn't something like this to happen. It seems that the LPGA is "concerned about its appeal to sponsors" and is requiring all its players to speak English within two years or be kicked out:

Concerned about its appeal to sponsors, the women’s professional golf tour, which in recent years has been dominated by foreign-born players, has warned its members that they must become conversant in English by 2009 or face suspension.

“We live in a sports-entertainment environment,” said Libba Galloway, the deputy commissioner of the tour, the Ladies Professional Golf Association. “For an athlete to be successful today 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.

“Being a U.S.-based tour, and with the majority of our fan base, pro-am contestants, sponsors and participants being English speaking, we think it is important for our players to effectively communicate in English.”

The L.P.G.A. and the other professional golf tours, unlike professional team sports, are dependent on their relationships with corporate sponsors for their financial survival.

Although Galloway insisted that “the vast majority” of the 120 international players on the L.P.G.A. circuit already spoke enough English to get by, she declined to say how many did not. There are 26 countries represented on the L.P.G.A. Tour. South Korea, with 45 golfers, has the largest contingent.
The reason this is ridiculous is that it creates an unnecessary firestorm of criticism at the same time it does little to help the players become proficient in the language. There appears to be a program already that does a bit to help:
The L.P.G.A. started a program in 2006 to help international players learn English and transition into American culture.

“It’s been very successful thus far,” Galloway said.
but I'm doubtful that they've put all that much thought into the program considering its lack of success after two years. She claims that it's been successful, but if your goal is to have players speak English and they still can't speak English, then sorry but it's not a success.

The other thing that makes this a bit silly is that players are expected to know English in order to talk with sponsors and give interviews, but since training for giving interviews about golf requires a teacher that knows golf terminology, they are not going to be able to ascertain the player's proficiency without either finding just the right person to do the interviews or by doing them themselves. A simple pass on a standardized test doesn't imply that the player will be able to answer well to interview questions. I for example wouldn't be able to answer them myself because I don't know any of the terminology.

And that's besides all the legal problems that could occur as a result of this.

The solution is a simple one: expand the program and create a textbook and MP3 course for golfers that trains them to answer interview questions, talk with sponsors and do whatever else golfers have to do in English. Provide more free training and mock interviews, create a culture of English proficiency amongst the players and peer pressure will do the rest.

I must thank them for the entertainment though because this will be fun to watch and see if they can continue with this new policy or not. They've made me pay attention to women's golf for the first time in my life.


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