LPGA’s “English-Only” Edict: Dumbest Sports Rule Ever

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Angela Park speaks three languages. Because one of them in English, she can stay!

I’m really trying to get it. I really am.

But I can’t. I just can’t grasp the reasoning behind the LPGA’s new English-only rule requiring all Tour players to speak English, starting next year. Immediately for new players.

The key word here is requiring. Not requesting. Or suggesting. But requiring.

And if a player tries to learn the language but isn’t comfortable conversing to sponsors or reporters in English? Well, they’ll be suspended. That’s right. Booted off the tour, prevented from earning a living, if they can’t pass an oral test.

I’m sorry. I’m just not getting why this isn’t the dumbest rule in the history of sports. OK, not just dumb. But certainly jingoistic and, by almost any measure, racist.

Consider this: There are apparently 121 players from 26 nations currently playing on the tour. But, reportedly, the rule was specifically explained to one particular group of players – South Koreans, who represent 45 of the foreign-born players.

And the LPGA didn’t explain it well. Reportedly, the players came away from the meeting thinking they’d lose their tour card, not merely be suspended, for failing to learn Englsh.

So now it’s dumb getting dumber.

The LPGA apparently did not get the globalization memo.

It’s happening in nearly every aspect of sports and business and most entities are embracing it. The NBA is certainly capitalizing on the growing popularity of basketball around the world. The NHL is a veritable global smorgasbord. Baseball has watched it happen organically and yet is trying to form a smart strategy to make money on the rest of the world’s baseball jones. Even the NFL is sticking its toe in Canada and Latin America.

I can’t imagine David Stern requiring Yao Ming to speak English or risk the wrath of enforcement czar Stu Jackson, big fella. Or Bud Selig telling Latin players habla ingles or else!

But not the LPGA! The notion of the level playing field – or golf course – is apparently lost on these folks. And the people they’ve brainwashed.

Like Brazilian-born Angela Park (pictured), she of Korean heritage, but who was reared in the U.S. “A lot of Korean players think they are being targeted, but it’s just because there are so many of them,” Park told Golfweek, which originally broke the story.

LPGA deputy commish Libba Galloway told AP the LPGA is a “global tour and is not targeting any specific player or country.”


Yes, these are trying times. The housing crisis. Gas prices. The non-recession recession. Collectively, they are driving the economic tsunami that is driving business of all kinds to desperate means. The LPGA is no doubt losing sponsorship dollars but that’s no excuse for making a move that even fewer companies – companies that sell products to consumers around the world – might not want to be associated with.

Dumb move. Dumb reasons.

Check out this ditty from LPGA State Farm tournament director Kate Peters. “This is an American tour,” she also told AP. “It is important for sponsors to be able to interact with players and have a positive experience.”

No, Kate, it is a golf tour, and this swing is way out of bounds.


6 thoughts on “LPGA’s “English-Only” Edict: Dumbest Sports Rule Ever

  1. j. michael morris says:

    It is a dumb rule to you because you don’t know anything about golf or the business of a tour. Because they misunderstood what happened in the meeting and thought they would lose their tour card is exactly why they need to speak English. Write about something you know.

  2. RR says:

    Interesting observations/comments from Korean LPGA players. Doesn’t seem to faze them. They’re not screaming racism but taking a much more rational, reasonable response than you though.

    How come you didn’t include these in your article?

    Angela Park, born in Brazil of South Korean heritage and raised in the United States, said the policy is fair and good for the tour and its international players.

    Seon-Hwa Lee, the only Asian with multiple victories this year, said she works with an English tutor in the winter. Her ability to answer questions without the help of a translator has improved in her short time on tour.
    “The economy is bad, and we are losing sponsors,” Lee said. “Everybody understands.”

  3. Robert says:

    No Roy, It’s an American Golf tour.

    Not one golfer has complained.


    Because if a sponsor is putting up MILLIONS of dollars for a player to compete to win, and the only requirement besides golf skills is learn english, they’ll GLADLY do it.

    if there were a Korean Golf tour, and they required Golfers to speak Korean to play, I bet many would learn.

    The friends I have who play sports overseas (Italy, France, Spain) ALL had to learn the native language.

    Why? It’s a basic job skill.
    If you are gonna work in a foreign country, It’s common sense to learn the language.

    Sorry, It’s not Discriminatory in any way, in my opinion.

    It’s a guarantee the sponsors (who keep the LPGA alive with their prize money) will get their money’s worth and not pull out and sponsor another event.

  4. Robert says:

    Roy, one more thing.

    You intimate that David Stern of the NBA would not take a similar tack, yet there was no mention on your part of the NBA’s absolute Purge of Hip-hop culture in the NBA.

    The NBA has gone out of it’s way to make the game more presentable for family viewing around the world, but you suggest that David Stern is above such action.

    The NFL has done the same to reign in the ridiculous amount of Gang related gestures and Apparel the players flaunt.

    The LPGA is well within their rights to dictate behavior of anyone wishing to play in THEIR private tournament.

    Those who believe it is discriminatory are welcome to play elsewhere.

    Creating controversy where there is none is the hallmark of a weak journalist…

  5. Robert says:

    My apologies, Roy.

    No weak journalism, just a weak argument from me that didn’t consider the big picture.

    it is discriminatory in that there is no way to say what’s english “enough” or correctly pronounced, etc.

    It is pretty arbitrary, and could be handled way better, without considering suspensions.

    This is truly a black eye for an organization that touts its’ diverse playing field.

    My apologies. Next time I’ll think twice, but post once.

  6. sandrar says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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