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.
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.