The LPGA recently announced that players with two years' experience on the Tour will be required to pass an oral test of their English skills at the end of the 2009 season. The rule goes into effect immediately for new members. Players who do not pass will be suspended temporarily from the Tour.
The LPGA says this policy is needed so that players can interact with corporate sponsors, Pro-Am partners and the media in order to promote the foreign players to the American public. The LPGA should focus on feeding the pipeline with talented young American players rather than penalizing players who have earned their spot on the tour because they are great golfers. Language skills have nothing to do with success in sports.
Many players and sports columnists believe the policy unfairly targets the Korean contingent which has 45 players on the Tour. In all, there are 121 international players representing 26 countries, including the #1 ranked woman in the world, Lorena Ochoa.
Should Yao Ming have been suspended by the NBA for not speaking English when he started playing in the U.S.? Did Jorge Posada deserve to play for the Yankees before he improved his rudimentary English skills? With these rules, would Rafael Nadal be the top-ranked men's tennis player today, or would he still be volleying with his uncle in Mallorca?
Does language play a role in sports?