Wednesday, August 27, 2008

LPGA/English Requirement, Take 2

Yesterday, my initial gut reaction on this LPGA English requirement business is that it was necessary, but hypocritical. (Some folks who read it definitely missed the point. Some focused on the English-being-biz-language part, which was a mistake.)

I've had some more time to think about it since I've been traveling on the road over the past day and here's my final conclusion.

The LPGA shouldn't make players learn English. The stars of the Tour should certainly be encouraged to speak English because it improves their marketability, etc, and can only help the players in their opportunities across the world. But it should be a requirement of membership. Doing so is taking it too far.

The players intrinsically know the value of knowing English, Chinese, Japanese, and any other language. They know that their marketing opportunities and the growth of the Tour is somewhat limited by their ability to communicate with the world. If they choose not to learn a reasonable standard of English - and other languages - then the Tour suffers and they do also.

This is particularly true of the LPGA Tour, whose growth in Asia trumps that growth made in America. For the Tour to get more exposure, better sponsors, etc, the Tour needs every advantage in marketing - including breaking language barriers.

Still, the Tour exists for its players. Carolyn Bivens has said so herself in media interviews. She has also said that it is her goal to get better purses, benefits, etc, for the players. If that is her goal, then she is working for the players. The players do not work for her. Therefore, to make such a requirement out of English goes back on the very nature of her work.

Without the players, the Tour is nothing. The players make the Tour what it is. With that in mind, it should be their choice to learn English - or any other language - because it is their responsibility and freedom to define how the Tour grows globally.

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