Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The LPGA speaks the English

Not sure if you noticed this tidbit coming out of the LPGA, but the women's golf tour is now going to require all golfers to speak passable English to the media and while giving victory speeches. Now I don't ordinarily care all that much (and frankly prior posts indicate I don't care at all) about the LPGA, but this caught my attention.

After going to an LPGA event deemed "The World Match Play Championships", it struck me as kind of shady that the powers-that-be in women's golf want only English spoken. It's very American centric, considering the best current women's golfer is from Mexico (Lorena Ochoa), the best ever is from Sweden (Annika Sorenstam), and the only other I know of is from Korea (Se Ri Pak). Oh you want concrete numbers? Here they are: There are 121 international golfers in the LPGA, 45 of who are from South Korea (you know, the good one). And during a recent 11-tournament stretch, eight were won by players from the so-called "Good Korea".

This is what the LPGA should be focused on: exploiting their athletes so men can pin them up on their walls. I'm not even sure who this is (actually it's Anna Rawson, an American) but she's just hot.

But numbers aside, apparently my concerns with this policy were raised by a few others. And it seems this isn't just American ego centrism at its finest, it's also probably not going to happen, since enforcing this sort of thing is illegal:

So-called English-only rules in the workplace are an emerging body of law; the Supreme Court has yet to weigh in. One high-profile recent case, still pending, centered on a Connecticut sheet-metal factory that made English compulsory. The attorney for the workers, Steven D. Jacobs, tells "Over the last 10 years, there have been a number of decisions in this area, and the courts have consistently decreed that it is permissible for an employer to mandate English-only for two narrow reasons: safety" — air-traffic control being an obvious example — "and efficiency" — such as telephone customer service.

"And that's it," Jacobs continued. "With regards to the LPGA, safety is obviously a non-factor. So the issue becomes, is the language a player speaks fundamental to the competition? I would not want to be the one who has to make that case. Language and national origin are inextricable. The LPGA is making English a precondition of access. That's a classic no-no. I don't see how this will stand up in court if a player challenges it."

So that should solve that right?

Now the LPGA is saying there won't be strict penalties if a player doesn't speak the English, and instead a training program will be instituted to get said player up to speed speaking-wise. Media-wise, I guess this makes sense because I hate dealing with translators. But with the economy the way it is, what if a bunch of leagues start doing this? What will the translators do? Thinking about it more closely, doesn't having training in lieu of penalties essentially make the LPGA an ESOL program. They are teaching people to speak the English. I guess it's noble of them when you really get down to the nitty gritty.


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