Ben previous blogged about the LPGA policy for speaking English in 2009. Well, personally, I thought the whole policy was ridiculous, especially with the backlash that the LPGA has gotten. The LPGA has since relaxed the speaking English requirement and the Wall Street Journal this weekend has an excellent recap of the controversy, as well as the implications of the language requirement.
“The communication program itself enjoys broad support, but the penalty proposal was a tone-deaf blunder Almost immediately it attracted a storm of protest, primarily because it was seen — by the media, by some players and sponsors, by civil-rights groups and even by a couple of California lawmakers who questioned its legality at tournaments taking place in that state — as aimed at the Tour’s large South Korean contingent… The LPGA’s single biggest source of income these days is not U.S. television, but Korean television.”
That fact alone — that the LPGA’s single biggest source of income is from Korean television — blew my mind as to why the LPGA would want to impose a language requirement (about 45 of the top 120 international players on the LPGA tour are Korean). That’s like if the PGA would ban Tiger Woods in the age of segregation because he isn’t white.
When Yao Ming came to the United States to play for the Houston Rockets, his English was far from perfect (and he had an official translator during his first season – see the interesting documentary Year of the Yao.) Should that have prevented Ming from playing in the NBA? No! And now the Chinese are wild about basketball and the NBA – having more television viewers than in the United States. (You saw how popular Kobe & LeBron were at the Beijing Olympics, right?) I’m glad there was a backlash and that the LPGA revised its language requirements. I say no to any 21st century “Language Exclusion Acts” for any sports league!