language barrier

Rarely do I pay attention to the LPGA. The Ladies Professional Golf Association did catch my eye today after they decreed that all golfers will be required to speak English by 2009. Ridiculous? Sort of.

While there is merit to the argument that there are certain jobs that require you to speak a certain language in order to be hired, this whole things reeks of marketing. Several recent tournaments have been won by Korean women, and there have been barriers in terms of post-tourney interviews and communicating with round partners in pro-ams etc. It’s quite obviously, though, that this is all about money. You can’t connect fans with golfers where no meaningful communication can be made in terms of interviews and commercials.

As an independent body hiring athletes to golf on tour, [and unlike the NBA or MLB, other highly diversified sports, where unions have the players backs] the LPGA seems to be within their rights to impose sanctions on their athletes. The question, however, must be asked: at one point does this impede upon a person’s rights? With no other forum to showcase their talents, the ladies have no other choice but to comply in order to keep golfing. But why should these women come over here and be forced to be ingratiated into American language and culture?

I think language and culture should be respected, and to force someone to learn a new language or else face suspension seems to impede upon one’s rights. While it is reasonable for a private business to set certain expectations upon potential employees, the fact is that these women have no other options in terms of where they can golf professionally. This is all about sponsors, money, marketing and television, no question about it; business and cash superseding rights. Another example of the domination of the consumption story.

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