Feature

Making golfers speak English

Is a new LPGA rule discriminatory, or just good business?

The Ladies Professional Golf Association has just shot itself in the foot, said Jim McCabe in The Boston Globe. The governing body of the women’s golf tour has warned players that they must demonstrate that they are proficient in English by 2009 or face suspension. The change has turned into a public relations nightmare, and with good reason. It’s “ludicrous.”

Maybe, but it’s “good business,” said Mike Bianchi in The Orlando Sentinel. “The main business of any professional sport is to attract fans and sponsors.” The fans who pay a fortune to play in pro-am events expect to be able to socialize with the pros, and corporate sponsors have every reason to expect the players who endorse them to speak the language their customers speak.

It’s a pity, then, that this is “sort of, uh, racist,” said Bob Ford in The Philadelphia Inquirer. South Korean players who are taking over the LPGA money list are clearly the targets of this nonsense. But, when the LPGA tells them, “No speakee English, no playee golf,” we all should take offense.

Imposing discriminatory rules is “not only offensive,” said The New York Times in an editorial, “it’s self-destructive.” Women have been fighting against discrimination in golf for decades, and insulting the international players who keep the tour at the top of its game shoots down the argument that ability is what matters in sports.

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