LPGA softens its stance on English
Under increasing criticism, the LPGA Tour yesterday backed off plans to suspend players who cannot speak English well enough to be understood at pro-ams, in interviews, or in making acceptance speeches at events.
LPGA Tour commissioner Carolyn Bivens said she would have a revised plan by the end of the year that would not include suspensions, although fining non-English speakers remains an option.
Bivens disclosed the Tour's original plan in a meeting with South Korean players two weeks ago at the
The LPGA membership includes 121 international players from 26 countries, including 45 from South Korea. Asians won three of the four majors this year.
"We have decided to rescind those penalty provisions," Bivens said. "After hearing the concerns, we believe there are other ways to achieve our shared objective of supporting and enhancing the business opportunities for every Tour player."
The reversal was quickly hailed by two California lawmakers who challenged the policy.
State Senator Leland Yee, a Democrat from San Francisco, had asked the Legislature's legal office to determine whether the English policy violated state or federal anti-discrimination laws. If it was deemed legal, Yee said he would have pushed for legislation banning such policies in California.
The LPGA Tour plays three events in California.
"I'm very pleased that the LPGA saw the wisdom of the concerns that we raised," Yee said. "It's a no-brainer for those of us who have been the recipient of these kinds of discriminatory acts."
State Assemblyman Ted Lieu, a Democrat from the Los Angeles area, said he would target corporate sponsors if the LPGA persisted with its English requirement. "I'm pleased they have come to their senses."
Grace E. Yoo, executive director of the Korean American Coalition in Los Angeles, said corporate sponsors are not only American but from around the world, yet players don't learn the languages of the countries where they are headquartered. The LPGA plays in such places as Singapore, China, Thailand, South Korea, France and Japan.