letters to the lpga

This is the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association's statement on the LPGA's idiotic English-only rule, which requires all of its member golfers to learn and speak English, or else face suspension, beginning in 2009:


Washington, DC - The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors and law students, is appalled by the Ladies Professional Golf Association's reported new language policy that would require that players be proficient in English or face suspension. According to press reports, beginning in 2009, the LPGA will suspend the memberships of players who have been on tour for two years if they do not pass oral English examinations.

"English proficiency is not necessary for a player to compete and excel in sports, as the recent Olympic Games so wonderfully demonstrated," stated Helen B. Kim, President of NAPABA. Kim further stated, "The LPGA's English language rule goes against the spirit of organized sports, including golf, which allow players and fans to transcend national and language differences by sharing the joys of athleticism and performance."

This requirement appears to be aimed at Korean and other Asian golfers who have become extraordinarily successful on the LPGA tour given that the ability to succeed on the golf course does not correlate with proficiency in the English language, as many successful athletes have shown. Nor is English proficiency necessary for players to interact with American sponsors and fans, as the LPGA allegedly claims. Certainly, many factors other than English proficiency make certain athletes more marketable and entertaining than others, and many players with limited or no proficiency in English have succeeded in excelling in the sports world and gaining a worldwide fan and sponsor base, such as Angel Cabrera and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

NAPABA is also concerned about the LPGA's lack of protocols for implementing this new language requirement, as reported in Golfweek Magazine. According to that source, LPGA staffers will be authorized to identify players who should be evaluated for English proficiency. This type of broad discretion and lack of standardized procedures may lead to discriminatory targeting of players from certain countries and ethnicities.

NAPABA urges the LPGA to follow the examples of every other professional sports organization in the United States, which welcome foreign-born players and which do not have any English proficiency requirements, and immediately rescind this unfair and unsportsmanlike language requirement. NAPABA also urges sponsors of the LPGA tour to withdraw their support until this rule is rescinded.
Basically, they think it's a bad idea. Similarly, the Korean American Bar Association of Northern California sent a lengthy resonse letter to the Dawn Hudson, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the LPGA, protesting the English-only policy, and signed by the likes of Assemblyman Mike Eng, Assembly Ted Lieu, Yul Kwon, and over 40 concerned Asian American organizaions. Email me if you'd like to see a copy of this letter.

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