Tiger Woods apologizes to family, fans… now, let’s move on

I’ve avoided the media feeding frenzy over Tiger Woods because it just didn’t seem that big a deal. I was concerned when the first reports of his accident came out and some media outlets reported he was seriously injured, but that turned out to be incorrect. When he was released with minor injuries, I decided it was a minor story. Then the story grew legs — female legs.

Tiger’s life is primarily lived on the golf course. He’ll go down in history as an incredible athlete, maybe the best ever in golf. He’ll also be revered as both the first and greatest African American and Asian American in golf (like Barack Obama, he’s claimed by both communities with equal adoration). His private life makes headlines too, sure. But he doesn’t live in a 24/7 media bubble like, say, Jon and Kate Gosselin (oops, I didn’t mean to ever mention that Fallen Asian American Dude ever again…). Tiger has taken care to keep his private life, well, private.

So it saddened me to see the media circus that exploded over his accident, and the reports of his having an affair. It cheapens his stature as an athlete, and whatever his private screw-ups, they weren’t related to his sport, like Michael Jordan or Pete Rose’s problems with gambling. And he wasn’t smearing his romantic dalliances in the tabloid media’s lenses like that Fallen Asian American Dude, for the sake of an extra 15 minutes of fame. Tiger doesn’t need a mere 15 minutes — his accomplishments will shine for a damned long time.

I was also saddened that he didn’t respond in a very smart way. Some experts started whispering that he’s damaging his mega-profitable brand by not speaking to the police and the media about the accident. Continue reading

LPGA backs down from English-only penalties

Sometimes, even a community like ours — Asian Americans who are normally imbued with deep-rooted cultural values that keep us from speaking out against slights and injustices — can get so riled up we have to express our outrage. Such was the case over the LPGA’s decision to enact harsh penalties on golfers on the circuit who don’t speak fluent English.

The requirement to pass a language proficiency test, or else face suspensions or even getting the boot from the tour, seemed to be aimed at the emergence of a generation of Asian women golfers — specifically Koreans — who are terrific athletes but don’t speak English. That never seemed to be a problem with athletes in other sports, like baseball, where translators shadowing Japanese superstars is a common sight. But it apparently bothered the LPGA.
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LPGA says “English Only” to foreign golfers

Asian American ad man and marketing guru Bill Imada comments on Ad Age‘s lively “Big Tent” blog (he’s one of a group of contributors) about how the LPGA is requiring English language proficiency for foreign golfers on the LPGA tour.

For those of you who do not follow golf nor sporting news, LPGA leaders recently decided to require their non-English-speaking members, many of whom have been on the LPGA Tour for two years or more, to be proficient in English before they are allowed to participate in LPGA-sanctioned events. In other words, the LPGA is asking its card-holding members who participate in the golf tournament circuit to be able to pass an exam in English or face suspension from LPGA play.

Well, the last time I checked, the LPGA is an organization that has sponsors based in the U.S. and other countries. Its membership is truly international and includes 121 golfers from outside of the U.S., representing more than two dozen countries. And, while the LPGA has its roots in the Western Hemisphere, it has benefited heavily from the growing interest in golf in a number of major industrialized countries as well as developing countries around the world — including nations in Asia, Latin America and the Pacific Rim.

Requiring that its members and players be proficient in English makes no sense. And the thought of suspending members who aren’t proficient in English seems unnecessarily harsh and, even worse, discriminatory and unlawful. The LPGA should be ashamed of itself.

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Tiger Woods: The most influential Asian American?

Update 18 June: News media are reporting Tiger Woods will miss the rest of this year’s golf season because he needs more surgery on his left knee. That’s a big bummer, but not surprising, given how he grimaced after many of his tee-offs. I almost winced with empathy pain as he twisted his knee each time.

Everyone’s favorite hapa/Asian American, Tiger Woods, is important enough news to accomplish a pretty impressive feat.

I’m not just talkin’ clinching the U.S. Open Championship in a nail-biting last round and sudden death match against Rocco Mediate. I’m talkin’ about pushing up the publication date of one of the most popular magazines in the country, Sports Illustrated.

MinOnline.com reports that the July 23 issue of the mag, which had been scheduled to hit the newsstands with a Woods cover on Wednesday, was rushed to the printers early, and is already out, one day after the golf superstar’s victory. Continue reading