Hit "A" to abort the operation: Don't expect a commissioner known for sticking to her guns to back down. The push for international players to learn more English will continue. But the fact that the policy was floated before being fully formulated suggests that the LPGA brass is open to revising it and to tweaking its implementation.
Hit "R" to try reading the data again: What the LPGA ought to do is discuss the policy with all its players (yes, with translators), analyze the data they're getting, along with new data from media and golfosphere responses, and decide on what needs to be changed. Here's a preliminary list:
1) Universalize the rule. If you really want to make the argument stick that communication skills are a crucial component of a golfer's overall professional development and drive home the point that the LPGA is a global tour, then require every player to demonstrate minimal conversational competence in 2 languages. And make sure that the standards players will be held to in English are the same as those for Spanish, French, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese.
2) Clarify the quiz. Let all the players know what the oral exams for demonstrating that minimal competence will consist of and how they will be evaluated. Give them opportunities to take practice tests.
3) Suspend the suspension. Most everyone agrees suspending a player's membership on the first failure is much too harsh a penalty. Anyone who fails a test should be required to hire a tutor during the next season and take mandatory classes in the off-season (either through an LPGA program or an accredited college or university). Allow each player 2 fails before membership is suspended.
Hit "F" to attempt to proceed without the necessary data: Go ahead and don't hit "R." Just don't be surprised if you get taken to court, lose players to the JLPGA, KLPGA, and LET, lose sponsorships from international, multinational, and transnational corporations, and lose fans from all over the world (including the U.S.).
Better to listen to the wiki gods: "The only option that offered any hope of a solution was Retry."
[Update 1 (11:12 pm): Bivens is reportedly on vacation, so she has plenty of time to digest Golfweek's coverage: Baldry, Rothman, Martin, Ferguson.]
[Update 2 (8/29/08, 5:33 am): Daniel Wexler asks the Commissioner, "Why risk the monopoly?" Good question.]
[Update 3 (12:16 pm): Golf.com has codified this into a pro/con debate format, but what gets lost in the shuffle is whether it's good business or not, on the one hand, and whether there's a moral justification or not, on the other.]
[Update 4 (12:38 pm): Perhaps the Commissioner should wonder whether she needs any enemies, what with friends like these.]
[Update 5 (12:41 pm): Not much insight or analysis from the Sports Law Blog, either.]
[Update 6 (12:48 pm): Eric Baković at Language Log is barely better. But Ted Lieu is a little funny--for a politician.]
[Update 7 (12:52 pm): Bill Imada at Advertising Age calls for the "A" option. Come on, academic bloggers! Can't you be as coherent as a PR analyst?]
[Update 8 (12:58 pm): Lisa Mickey pens another thoughtful and well-reasoned essay from her Futures Tour office. Required reading for anyone who thinks "A" is the right button to hit--the best case I've yet seen for "F".]
[Update 9 (9/1/08, 3:48 am): I was remiss in not linking to this Jason Wulterkens piece earlier.]
[Update 10 (9/4/08, 2:40 am): Here's some free advice I emailed Lisa Mickey. What do you all think of it?
Bottom line: it's the suspension that worries me. Na Yeon Choi's only rookie blog was translated, I just noticed. So there's a possibility the LPGA's 2008 ROY could get suspended at the end of the 2009 season. That would be a fine mess for the LPGA and for Choi. I hope someone's already made that clear to Choi and the Commissioner. Will there be extra efforts on behalf of those on the "watch list" before the exam? Will they even know they're "on the clock," so to speak? How soon?
A suspension after 2 years seems too soon and too harsh to me.
Many fewer international players are going to find themselves in the top 20 in their first 2 years on tour than will be struggling to stay in the the top 80 or 100. For those in the latter group, fines should be enough of an added incentive to keep them working on their English after their second season. I find it hard to believe that the future of the LPGA really depends on someone who may not even stay on tour for more than a handful of years anyway. Why not craft the policy, instead, to create extra incentives for the few individuals in each rookie class who can get a win in their first 2-4 years on the LPGA--most likely 5-10 people per rookie class, if history is any guide--to get their English up to speed?
Let's take the Classes of 2006 and 2007 as an example. We already know Eun-Hee Ji is on the clock. But what about Jee Young Lee, Ai Miyazato, In-Kyung Kim, Song-Hee Kim, Sun Young Yoo, Kyeong Bae, H.J. Choi, Jin Joo Hong, and Na On Min? It's all very murky for them now. (I assume the other international players are fine.) That's at most 10 players in 2 rookie classes who might need work.
If the policy were formulated in the following way, the expectations and timetable would be a lot clearer for all LPGA members, but particularly for those with the potential to become the face of the tour:
You go on the clock after your 3rd top 10 or your 1st win, whichever comes 1st. You then have, say, 30 events to get your English to a certain very minimal standard or face fines, 60 events to get it to a more adequate standard or face probation, and 90 events to get it to where it ought to be or face suspension.
With clear criteria and clear benchmarks, the players could craft their own timetables for learning English and adjust their playing schedules in light of their actual progress.
I also think there are lessons to be learned from the Patti Rizzo story.]