LPGA mandates players must learn English

From ESPN.com: Report: LPGA will suspend memberships if players don’t learn English

Players were told by LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens that by the end of 2009, all players who have been on the tour for two years must pass an oral evaluation of their English skills or face a membership suspension. A written explanation of the policy was not given to players, according to the report.

Betsy Clark, the LPGA’s vice president of professional development, said a team of evaluators will assess players on communication skills including conversation, everyday survival phrases and “golfspeak.” Players must be able to conduct interviews and give acceptance speeches without the help of a translator, she said, according to the report.

This seems to be an over-reaction by the LPGA towards the large number of foreign players, especially Asians.

I would like to think that it’s not meant to be discriminatory.  It is in the best interest of players to be able to speak English.  It makes playing with partners easier and it’s good for players to be able to market themselves and women’s golf.  But, I have read where people don’t believe that having an influx of Asian golfers is good for the women’s game because they aren’t connecting with the crowds.

So, is it right to mandate English?  What if the French Open in tennis made all tennis players speak French?  Or the Olympics in Beijing required everyone to speak Mandarin to the media?  Neither the  NBA or MLB requires English with their huge numbers of foreign players and they seem to be doing fine.

UPDATE 8/27/08:
From Golf.com: LPGA’s English-only policy is unsportsmanlike and un-American

The world of sport is supposed to be a true meritocracy. You should be measured by your skill, not your personality or parents or linguistic prowess. If Seve Ballesteros was subject to a rule like this one, he never would have won the 1980 Masters. The LPGA wants to hold its members to a different standard, one that makes proficiency in English and the ability to entertain pro-am sponsors as important as proficiency with a 7-iron.

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