I don’t usually write these sort of responses to news articles, but I am disgusted with the LPGA on this decision. They have enacted a rule that players must be “conversant” in English by 2009. There are so many things wrong with this policy, where do I start?
1) How does a country like the United States mandate a language that players must speak? We are a country of immigrants. We are a country that does NOT have an official language. We are a country that is supposed to respect the cultures of others. We are a country that is supposed to resist being exclusionist. Isn’t it good enough that they play well?
2) What does “conversant” mean? How will they measure it? What are the cutoffs? Is there going to be a multiple-choice test? Perhaps an interview? This is a joke. Language professionals can’t agree on what “conversant” means, much less a group over-privileged country club society-types.
3) I really hope that this doesn’t pass legal challenges. The discussion in the article ran both ways on this issue. I’m assuming that this was vetted by a legal team, but I also assume that they will run afoul of rules in at least one state in which they play. Not to mention, they may alienate some of the very marketers they wish to impress.
4) I disagree that this targets Korean players alone; however, they will likely be affected the most. Even a Korean who has all of the vocabulary and grammar knowledge to be a rock star in interviews, often cannot participate adequately in a conversation. Conversation skills have not be emphasized in the past and are only now receiving a considerable amount of lip service (that’s a start) from the government. In addition, there is going to be a speaking component in future college entrance exams, which should shift the educational focus for future graduates. However, at this point, this policy is very likely to hurt Korean athletes.
All-in-all, I am disgusted with the LPGA and I hope that they come to their senses before this policy reaches fruition in 2009.