September 10, 2008

'English Only' No Longer Par for the Course

The leading women’s golf association is backtracking on a policy mandating that foreign golfers must speak English at tour events.

The California-based newspaper AsianWeek reports that the Ladies’ Professional Golf Association is rescinding a policy after two California lawmakers threatened legal action.

Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) and Assemblyman Ted Liu (D-Los Angeles) decried the English-only policy as discriminating against Korean golfers, 45 of whom play on the circuit.

They vowed to challenge the legality if the policy were found to violate state or federal anti-discrimination laws.

Initially, the LPGA announced that effective next year, English would be required for media interviews, pro-am events and acceptance speeches, and players would be fined or suspended if they fail an oral English exam.

“The penalty [if the minimum requirements are not met] is meant to underscore the importance of this issue to the LPGA’s long-term business success,” Commissioner Carolyn Bivens said in a statement.

Three days later after a public outcry, the suspension portion of the policy was nullified, although fines may still be imposed.

The American Pacific American Legal Center wants the fines to be abolished, too.

“The LPGA has gone about this totally the wrong way,” the center’s senior staff attorney Gerald Kim said in an Associated Press interview.

–T.J. Johnston/Newsdesk.org

Sources:

“LPGA Requires English for International Golfers”
AsianWeek, August 26, 2008

“Lieu and Yee Help Rescind LPGA English Language Policy Penalty”
AsianWeek, September 5, 2008

“LPGA backs down on English requirement”
The Associated Press, September 6, 2008

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