Friday, August 29, 2008

Media Piles on LPGA

As was to be expected, once the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) announced its new requirements that all Tour players be proficient in English, the media erupted in protest. A representative attack came from FoxSports' Mark Kriegel, who wrote,
Lawyers can debate whether the LPGA's edict is unconstitutional. But I know this much: It's un-American. It represents a potential assault on the idea of merit, and an insult, not just to golfers, but to all athletes. Eleven years after Tiger Woods won his first major, the golf establishment still reveals its exclusionary heart with alarming regularity. Somewhere, Hootie Johnson is beaming with pride.

I have news for Mr. Kriegel, if he cares to get outside of his little media cocoon. Go to Japan, Mr. Kriegel and try communicating in English on the Japan Pro Golf Tour. Or try communicating in English on the Korean pro golf tour, or the Japan Pro Baseball League. You might find that *gasp* you need to be able to speak the local language. If those leagues require members to be able to speak the local language, what is so wrong about an American league requiring its members to speak the local language?

Now we both know that superstars who are recruited by foreign leagues are provided with translators, but there is a subtle difference. When a star is recruited to go play overseas, it is usually the foreign league who recruits the player. However, the LPGA is in fact an American tour. No one if forcing the foreign players to come and play on said tour. If they do not or cannot speak English, then they can go back and play in their respective countries' tours.

However, any country has the right to enforce a local language requirement. Trying to say that the US tours are not allowed to do that because "As for that gem — the American tour bit — the fact is it's not so American, and hasn't been for a while." is simply untrue. The LPGA is an American tour. American owned, American run and American sponsored. As are the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball. All of these leagues are the American pro sports leagues. They are not based in France, or Korea or anywhere else. They are in the United States- ownership is in the United States and therefore it is irrelevant whether the players are or are not. If players wish to participate on the tour, then it is up to them to meet the Tour's requirements.

Mr. Kriegel and his ilk would have us believe that it is OK for Korea to force all players on the Korean golf tours to speak Korean, but it is somehow not OK for United States sports leagues to have a similar requirement. There is this little thing called national sovereignty, Mr. Kriegel. You probably do not understand the concept, but this is the United States. Not Korea. And our national language is English. Therefore, it seems entirely logical that a US sports tour would want its members to be able to communicate with the sponsors. If we were in Korea, I would expect players to be able to communicate in Korean. But we are not- we are in the United States.

If I were send a word of advice to the media, I would recommend they worry more about their own profession's lack of accountability, lack of objectivity and plummeting ratings than I would be about the LPGA's attempt to help their members communicate to the (mostly American) sponsors.

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