Listen Up LPGA

By Michael FechterSeptember 5, 2008, 4:00 pm
Let me start by thanking the LPGA for making my job easy. Sometimes I struggle with what might be worthy to commit thought and energy for the voracious reader of columns, blogs and CNN tickers. Golf and comedy usually go as well together as chocolate and liver. That 'Hershey's pt' never caught on like it should.
 
So, thanks for announcing that all 'foreign-born players' must pass an oral English test to retain their playing privileges on your little tour.
 
Great rule. Doesn't seem racist or xenophobic to me.
 
Only, it doesn't go far enough. For now on, lets only let blue-eyed blondes play on the ladies tour. Congrats Laura Baugh, you now have exempt status. You, too, Paris Hilton. We feel certain your bag will match your shoes, which will also match your eyeliner. The tour needs a sense of style and you're the lucky winners.
 
Wow, all LPGA players must now speak English to play a game that truly transcends cultures and national borders. One language, under God, because the tour is worried about sponsors and TV ratings. Jump away from humanity and our right to speak in the language of our native lands. Will the LPGA ban deaf / mute players in the future because they cannot speak at all?
 
C'mon, LPGA, if you want TV ratings and you want your sponsors to have 'positive experiences with your players,' lets spice things up a bit. For now on, no one over 30 is allowed to play on tour. No need to come back for a personal appearance, Nancy Lopez. Oh, and Juli Inkster, sorry, but there is no tee time for you.
 
Better yet, let's set a weight limit for the LPGA. One John Daly in the world of golf is enough. We dont need his female counterpart filling up our Hi-Def TV screens. Or, perhaps the tour can start restricting players caloric and fat intake because, seriously, sponsors relate better to players with a BMI under 25. Dont worry Krispy Kreme, the LPGA Tour will still gladly accept your sponsorship money. But, if a player happens to sneak one of your hot original glazed or, worse, a chocolate iced custard-filled doughnut, shes banished from the tour. No exceptions. Theres not a place for cellulite in todays sponsor-driven LPGA.
 
If the LPGA is so worried about ratings and sponsors, why not take a cue from the wildly successful Olympics. Today, its all about beach volleyballers with their rock-hard physiques and tattoos. I felt like I was cheating on my girlfriend when I was glued to the set for hours while watching digs and smash overheads for gold.
 
Just think what bikinis on players will do for the ratings. Lets not just limit it to the players. Lets insist that the announcers also wear bikinis. Yes, that IS Beth Daniel in an aqua marine, tee back from Victoria's Secret. Nice.
 
The LPGAs prepared statement says that they are instituting this English requirement because 'athletes now have more responsibilities and we want to help their professional development. State Senators from California to the Carolinas are slapping their heads because they failed to think of this tactical genius. For years, theyve been deporting day workers, landscapers and meat packers when they should have been concentrating their efforts on the scourge of professional athletes. Yao Ming, Ichiro and Dice K beware. Youre next!
 
An LPGA spokeperson said, 'There are more fans, more media and more sponsors. We want to help our athletes as best we can succeed off the golf course as well as on it.' Well, who can argue with that? But, lets take a look at how things got to this point.
 
For years, the LPGA has struggled to be more significant. And, for the past decade or so, it has done a wonderful job doing just that. Annika and Lorena easily enter into any conversation about the most dominant athletes in their sports. As purses rose, the money attracted more and more players from all over the world. The level of competition rose dramatically to the point where nearly every winner on the LPGA can legitimately say that, for at least one weekend, she was the best golfer in the world.
 
The LPGA has about 170 active players. Of that number, 120 or so are from outside the U.S. and 45 are from Korea. Currently, 14 of the top 25 money winners are of Korean heritage. Its been said that there are more Kims on tour than there are in a Korean Kim Chee factory. (Kim Chee is a traditional and delicious Korean fermented cabbage appetizer, but you probably already knew that.) And, there are more Korean Parks on tour than there are American theme parks.
 
In America, you are allowed to say whatever you want as long as it does not incite a riot -- as evidenced by this column. You are allowed to dress as you wish as long as it is not 'indecent' and does not incite riot (Thank you for exercising your rights, Ms. Gulbis and others). And, the last I heard, you are allowed to speak in whatever language you want -- unless you are actually applying for citizenship. If Reilly Rankin wins the U.S. Open next year, Im all for allowing her to conduct her interview in pig Latin.
 
Let's be honest, the LPGA wants all the foreign-born players to speak English so that the American viewer can relate to them. We love, love, love athletes who have stories. That is why the Olympic coverage spent so much time on the back-story of how this or that pentathlete overcame dyslexia or Tourettes or even dyslexic Tourettes. It helps us relate. And, it adds some colorful words to our vocabulary. We want the story behind the story.
 
I have actually heard friends complain that they 'don't like' Michael Phelps because he isn't personable enough. Well, he's a swimmer. He swims. Michael Phelps eats, sleeps and swims. And, Korean golfers practice, practice and practice. They also seem to win, win and win.
 
So, the LPGA wants all the foreign-born players to speak English. Lets also make a rule that all the American players must learn Korean, or French, or that bastardized English they speak in England whenever they play a tournament on foreign soil. It's only fair play, which is something we are so proud of in golf.
 
Personally, I would love to speak Korean. I would never get shorted again on Kim Chee by my Korean produce vendor, a man who, oddly enough, is actually named Kim Chee.
 
Perhaps the problem is that the LPGA has never heard of something called a 'translator.' It has been popular in little places like the United Nations for years. During my stint as GolfChannel.com lead investigative reporter during The Ginn Tribute Hosted by Annika, I made friends with a Korean-American who offered to translate for me whenever I wanted to interview a Korean player. C'mon, LPGA, with the present number of Korean players on tour, you can certainly afford her services. Just take the whole salary out of Seon Hwa Lee's next championship check.
 
So what if Americans have only won six times on tour this year. Golf is a global game. Get used to it. The American men's Olympic basketball team has and they did just fine. It's a big orb out there with people of many skin colors and many languages. It's one of the great beauties of humanity -- a thing we call 'diversity,' which should be celebrated, not squashed.
 
Is it really that important to hear a Korean-born winner on your tour in 2009 say in halting English 'I...uh...had...good...days...in Toledo...here.'? Lord knows, the gent that runs the Mexican food truck hates it when I speak in Spanish that way. He gives me something different each time I ask for a Burrito Vegetarian, and it has only served to increase my appreciation of foods I can neither pronounce nor recognize. I dont know what kind of a plant carnitas comes from, but it makes for a hell of a burrito!
 
But, thanks, LPGA. In the days without a young George Wallace, a Sen. Joseph McCarthy or even Andrew Dice Clay, you have made us Americans look racist, arrogant and short sighted. Thanks for making us appear additionally mean-spirited, shallow, driven by consumerism and xenophobic.
 
By the way, in case an actual employee of the LPGA takes note of my words, I am available to do your P.R. damage control.
 

Email your thoughts to Michael Fechter
 
Editor's footnote: Mr. Fechter's opinions are not necessarily those of GOLF CHANNEL. As noted previously by Golf Channel.com, Mr. Fechter is a humorist and a jackass. His Spanish is minimal and his Korean is non-existent.
 
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