Until recently, Jan Stephenson was known mostly for once being an overrated glamour star on the LPGA Tour. Now, in the great tradition of Vijay Singh, she's opened her mouth one too many times. By telling Golf Magazine that she thinks Asians are "killing" the women's tour, she took her ignorance to a new level.
Two years ago, the LPGA Tour launched a full-fledged campaign to promote their more attractive players, regardless of past performance. Rookies were featured as prominently as 10-time winners, and the tour's marketing focus was very clear. I wouldn't be surprised if a few tour officials secretly shared Stephenson's opinion, but they've got it all wrong. If the tour really wants to move forward, they should actively promote its best players, regardless of appearance or nationality.
Of course, not everyone agrees with us (see below for a sampling of the responses), and that's what makes the sports world go 'round. Feel free to add your comments and we'll be sure to add them to the discussion.
Have to disagree with you. Jan Stephenson may have upset the "establishment" of women's golf with some of her comments concerning the Asian girls, but her comments were right on target. Some have talent but they just don't get it when it comes to reacting with the paying public who spend the money so that they have anything to play for.
I can definitely see major sponsors withholding sponsorship or support if the women--asian in particular--continue to ignore the people who support their tour. I attended five rounds this past year--two at the McDonald's and three at the Betsy King--and can relate to exactly what Jan was talking about. Not necessarily nice to talk about but, sadly, true.
Al Howell, via email
If I ponied up the money to get into an LPGA Pro-Am I would hope to be entertained by the golfers whose prize money I'm helping to provide, and feel very slighted if my Pro-Am partner was playing a practice round instead.
I can understand that some of these Asian golfers struggle with their English and understandably they may not be able to be quite as social. But it appears they're working on it. Se Ri Pak has made strides in her English recently. I bet there are some Europeans whose English might need more practice too.
To generalize and specifically point out Asians was probably not racist, but it was biased and regrettable. For sure, pointing out that some golfers should be more friendly in Pro-Ams would have been preferable to saying that some group of people are solely responsible for ruining the LPGA.
Arbon Reimer, via email
I read your opinion on what Jan Stephenson said about Asians. I have heard many people in the golf world try to put a pleasant spin on her comments. I am glad to see that you share my opinion on the ridiculous comments that she said. Hearing person after person trying to soften the negative nature of her rude and insensitive comments makes me sick. She said something that was unacceptable.
I watch the LPGA, and would like to see a lot of the players be more loose and personable. That is just not the case with some people. Being Korean myself I have a chance to get to know a lot of very reserved Koreans. This is a cultural difference, but in no way is this a bad thing. However, being born to an American father and growing up in Saint Louis Mo., I consider myself much more Americanized that the average Korean.
I am a very outgoing and emotional person. I have never met a Korean that didn't like these qualities that define my personality. And I do notice that most of, if not all of the more reserved Koreans that I spend time with also loosen up when I am around. This is not a quality that is frowned upon.
In time some of the foreign players, Asians and other ethnic groups, will too open up and we will see more than their serious side. But some people just aren't like that. Open and happy or serious and ridged, as long as these women are the best golfers in the world, that's what I want to see in the LPGA.
Thanks again for your refreshing opinion on the comments made by Jan Stephenson.
Perlie Voshell, Outlooksoft.com
Just read your thoughts about Jan Stephenson's comments. It is very safe for you (and the media) to pounce all over her. What would have shown more courage and insightfulness on your part is to really focus on what she said and not get blinded by the mention of race. What she said was the Asians are not engaging the pro-am amateurs. They say hi and goodbye and nothing else.
Why not examine that and get it out in the open rather than throw race cards all over the place. If many of the best players are not customer friendly, that's a problem for the tour. Plain and simple. If they do talk and schmoose the amateurs, then let's disagree with the premise. Instead, the race card blinds the point she was making and you do a disservice to your readers by following the herd. Agree?
Jack, via email
I thought about it for a while and I think some of her comments may have been taken out of context. I think what she was trying to say was that there seems to be an etiquette problem. I remember reading another interview article I think it was Juli Inkster, where she was annoyed with on course conduct. (I may be wrong about who the interview was with, but there was a strong point made about asian manners.) Ruining the tour is a bit extreme though. Let's face it, poor putting is the biggest obstacle the LPGA faces. (I'm kidding.)
James Ellis, via email
Jan Stephenson - what can you say about a so-called professional who cannot even treat up and coming children golfers any sense of dignity. I was witness to her outburst at the Beaconsfield Golf course a number of years ago (was then a major). After completeing the 18th hole, even though she was frustrated with her play, some young girls simply wanted an autograph. Ms. Stephenson basically told them to "bug off", and off she went. I will never forgive her for her lack of compassion. In my book, she is a complete loser.
As far as her comments, I do agree that Asian players are rather dull to watch and do not provide much excitement to the game of golf, other than knowing how to play it extremely well. But, personality - no there is none to speak of. I think she went a little too far with sexy etc., but then, look at the much needed publicity she is getting - more than she can do on a golf course.
Ken Greene, via email
Pro Golf is all about entertainment and that is where the LPGA is hurting. They need to make it fun. At the players summit last year the Commissioner laid it on the line about how players needed to communicate with the fans. The Asians players need to learn English. I think Jan Stephenson was right in a sense. We do not need quotas. But the LPGA is not just playing greatgolf it has to be about entertainment. I miss JoAnne Carner and other animated players who had personalities. Pros who give yes or no answers are boring - they need to know how to express theirselves.
Sue Munson, via email
The Jan Stephenson comments have become a media circus, much like the Vijay Singh comments recently. The real underlying issues are: (1) do sports performers have a duty to entertain their fans and/or the paying public? (2) has an individual athlete any justification to make sweeping statements about any subgroup in their field and (3) what credibility does such a person bring to the issue. Here are my opinions on the above three issues.
(1) yes, high paid performers have a responsibility to entertain as well as excel in their field. At worst they should not offend. Why? (a) The paying public is well educated and knows the difference between entertainers and peformers and personality. The paying public can pick and choose their favorites... so ultimately the success of the LPGA rests with the golfers (and others) to put a product on the field that demonstrates excellence and civilized behavior. I don't hear people extolling the LPGA often these days, so maybe the lack of due consideration to fans is part of the reasons the LPGA is not growing that well. While I enjoy admiring attractive ladies as much as the next ignorant male, I don't buy the "sexy" image being promoted. Sorry.
(2) Generalizations that are critical in content alays, without fail, raise a howl of protest and often tell us more aout the speaker than the issue at hand. Everyone in the world is different and every culture in the world has its ways and subtleties. Before people spout off and sulk and have tantrums in public about an unfamiliar culture or starnger, how about trying a quiet pleasant word in the ear of that person? It as quite unpleasant when the 13-year old girl and her father caddy were partly ostracized in the media during the year. She seemed a real nice person to me as did her proud father. Hey, if I went on the tour I would mess up, believe me. I would also appreciate a few tips and quiet words by my experienced partner rather than the grumps and public tantrums. So grow up please and remember it is the DUTY of the establishment to welcome new blood into the group.
Ghandi said it better than most (I paraphrase) "before I take on sensitive issues I make a point of building a relationship". This can be done through polite talk about family and achievements and hopes for the future. AFTER the parties understand their common ground THEN talk about the issues.
(3) Credentials: I always liked watching Jan Stephenson play, one reason beng her competitiveness. I can't recall her ever being an expert on manners, customs, good behavior, and communications. Now I know she is no expert!!
John McCrossan, Vancouver, Canada
I have to disagree with you. While she might have been insensative she was also correct. I think we have gotten too correct anymore. Why is she such a bad person for speaking the truth when it is okay for a person who speaks english to talk in a different language in front of a person who only speaks English? Why is that player not punished? Why is that person not have articles written about them for being wrong?
George Gallo, via email
I think we have a plan. First we get rid of all the Asians on the LPGA tour because they don't have enough sparkle to promote the tour. Next, I guess we have to dump the gays because a lot of viewers can't get behind the tour with so many of them on the circuit. There should also be a weight restriction, because, after all, it's all about ratings and who wants to see excellence if it's twenty pounds overweight?
Eventually, we'll end up with the HPGA (H stands for Hooters). Hideki Matsui is not ruining the appeal of Yankees baseball because real sports fans just want to see the best of the best go at it. To ask for anything less is demeaning to the athletes and their sport, whether it's baseball, golf or luge.
Brian Mondschein, Kutztown University
I'm not sure i agree w/Jan Stephenson, but I do believe that people should be able to talk freely about their opinions & experiences w/o being labelled as racist or other negative terms. Dialogue can only truly happen when people feel free to be honest publicly. People feel free around the world to bash Americans w/o these types of consequences.
It seems that we have almost gotten to the point of censorship regarding honest opinions because the consequences can wreck a career. I think this is just another way that the press has been irresponsible and this is also why we get such watered-down "dialogue."
Nancy King, via email
In regards to Stephenson's remarks, I could not agree more. I belong to a Private Country Club where competition and friendship are normal. Unfortunately, the Asian members do not want to be a part of the club competitions or social events. It is like two seperate clubs with one group being very active in the club and the Asians refuse to be a part of that. We have tried to change that but were met with resistance. Out of 150 Asian members 6-10 are involved in the Clubs activities. Very sad.
Brian Baumgardner, via email
Ty Votow had a meeting recently with the Asian golfers, and the very subject was what Jan Stephenson spoke about in her Golf Magazine interview. That doesn't excuse her tasteless public comments, but what she said was absolutely true.
By the way, you should have been just as vociferous in decrying the "Year of the Woman" on the PGA Tour as you were in challenging Stephenson. There is a very large majority of male golfers in America who think that the ridiculous double standard embraced by the LPGA Tour with regard to the "female at birth" standard in their bylaws. The women want it both ways: they want to invade the men's tours, but refuse to allow men on their tour.
My point is not that men should be allowed on the LPGA Tour. It would be a waste of time. However, it is ridiculous for highly unqualified women to be playing the men's tours (PGA, LPGA, Champions). They have no chance of competing, and they create a ridiculous sideshow in the process.
Ron Garland, Golf Nuts Society
Mr. Carey, I feel you are the one that is off base. How can you fault someone for stating the truth, at least as they see it,. Why does she (Jan) and people like Fuzzy, get all the heat, when people like Dusty Baker, Reggie White, Jesse Jackson can say any thing they like and no one says anything about it. How can you fault her when even Stevie Wonder could see that she is right, maybe she should be the head of the LPGA. What ever happened to freedom of speech for white people. I guess telling the truth makes you a racists. Thank you.
Edward Heck, via email
If Asian players are not good for the golf and if English is official language for players, why doesn't Jan Stephenson push for such a rule to be on the rule books so every body whom wanting to play in LPGA tour understand that non-English speaking players will be penalized with 2 strokes. Please Jan Stephenson, what is your agenda? Really, you need to come out of hiding (coward), your playing time is over and yet what is your real goal? Trying to rally for racism to flower in the Gentle game of Golf, so you could somehow benefit from your attention-getting comments?
Sam Cantinas, via email
Stephenson's comments can be deemed racist. She should try to understand that people from diversified background and region do not react like what she think people should react. Asian generally are more conservative and quiet, unlike American or European who are generally "loud" and open.
I cannot believe some of the comments posted here. I found them very dumb, rubbish, and being racist. If you cannot play golf as you wish anymore, just retire or get lost. Stephenson chose the most idiotic way to get attention; this is an example of an average tour player past her prime trying to garner some more press attention. If she is or was a pro golfer, she must acknowledge that golfers can come from different ethnics or background.
I cannot wait to see Stephenson being totally humiliated by Asian players on tour. It is a professional sport event, not a Wrestling Show where personality takes top spot.
Some of these Asian Golfers may be struggling with their English and understandably they may not be able to be quite sociable as language is a barrier. But it appears they're working hard on it. Pak Se Ri has improved in her English quite recently. BTW, some Europeans Golfers should polished up their English, too. Stephenson's comments was biased and regrettable.
Chang Sunway, via email
I am against her unbecoming behaviour also. You chose what you say. So her personal opinion on Asian players not fit to play on Tour just because they do not speak or emotionless during competition is down right ridiculous. If she is mature enough, these comments could have been saved for her husband in their family backyard or behind her bedroom door.
I strongly believe she could have been a neglected one herself so she sought to voice her mind off whenever she has the chance. How do you like hearing Asian replying to her: "Well, we don't talk much to Americans because we do not like fat persons and they are rude and noisy and totally self-centered beings. Altogether, just a rubbish race.
Jackie Valiant Syed, via email
It doesn't matter to me if Jan Stephenson is right or not. I just don't see why it benefits her (or any other Sports Professional, for that matter) to pop-off like that. Escpecially when you know beofre you say something that it will be looked upon as a negative comment from MOST. There is NO gain for her by making those comments. Yes, you could say that we all have "Freedom of Speech" but listen to what you are saying whenever you bring a 'Group' of people down and consider that your comments are only hurting yourself when it is all said and done!
Craig Johnson, via email
Women's golf is boring. It has nothing to do with how far they hit the ball. It has everything to do with drama. The LPGA lacks drama. The best thing about the Ladies U.S. open was watch whatever her name was rise from nowhere to win. She jumped around and I was actually interested. Watching Se Ri Pak nod when she hits a very good shot or any other just smile and do the golf wave, is not going to draw fans.
Face it, women's sports as a whole don't attract men. Men are largest target audience for sports. Men like men to see men go after it, and they like women to look good. Call it sexist, but its the way it is. To try to change man kind to fit to accommodate the women's rights advocates is a waste of everyone's time.
Gary Byrd, via email
How absurd is it that in tennis there is a mandatory press conference after matches yet their is no accountability for Golfers after a round? I agree her comments were misdirected but their is a definate underlying issue with standards. Furthermore, my sister who plays for Cal State Long Beach would never join the tour without giving the amateur side of golf a real shake.
It is not a child's game, so for god's sake don't let golfers play on any tour until they are legally allowed to celebrate their spoils in the clubhouse bar! Go back to school Michelle Wie and try to beat your fellow amateurs to prove how professional you can be.
Troy Wilkinson, Laguna Whitsundays Resort
I read Jan's article and she's right. These Asian players can easily be replaced by a robot. They lend nothing to the tour because TV is all about personalities and excitement. These gals play golf like slabs of concrete. Sorry, but this is not a PC issue this is about the survival of the tour and if you don't think TV and sponsorship money is not important then you've got your head in the sand.
Too many sportswriters think they are the guardian at the gate for the PC folks. Sorry, but your views are to political for my taste. Jan simply stated the obvious these Asian players can bore a viewer to tears. Lose the viewer, and say goodbye to the tour.
Charlie Piazza, via email
Sorry but I feel Jan Stephenson is right. The LPGA is an American tour. They should have the right to limit the percentage of international players.
Janet Moore, via email
I totally agree with Jan Stephenson, although I do enjoy watching excellent golf.
Frank Lisk, via email
Jan hit it on the head. Asians are taking the LPGA tour down. They do not relate to the fans which eventually will go away as I did..
Nick, via email
It is time for Jan Stephenson to get lost. And I cannot believe some of the comments posted here. I found them very dumb, rubbish, and being racist. If you cannot play golf as you wish anymore, just get lost. Jan, you chose the most idiotic way to get attention. Nice try. I cannot wait to see you being totally humiliated by Asian players on tour. It is a professional sport event, not WWE.
Scott Hamilton, via email
Jan is an example of average tour player past her prime trying to garner some press ink. If she is or was a pro golfer, she must acknowledge that golfers can come from different backgrounds.
Khokan Mitra, Dynamic Coatings, Inc.
She's entitled to her opinion....there are bigger issues facing this country...the breakdown of the institution of marriage (a man and a wife), our families breaking apart, taking away "One Nation Under God" in our Pledge of Allegiance. We should be praying for our President and leave the small petty stuff out of the headlines!
Marilyn K. Cummings, via email
Jan just told the truth. Are we so racially divided that we cannot do this? The fact that this has become an issue proves failure is certain. Ignorance is always alleged but true ignorance is ignoring the truth of a matter. Jan didn't.
Lawrence Klotz, via email
Does the 1st Ammendment mean anything to anybody. I am sick and tired of all of the Politically Correct Police. I am now retired and am very happy that I can say what I want, without worrying about getting disciplined for saying something that might hurt somebody's feelings or offend them. The PC Police should go to hell.
R.Gleaton, via email
Whether you agree or not you both have a right to your opinions, so shut up about Jan Stephenson.
Clyde, via email
It's refreshing to hear someone speak from the heart - even its not PC. I'm neither pro or con on the Asian golfers. But have to agree with Jan. Wathching the Asians is "boring." Wouldn't it be PC for the foreigners, who are taking American sponsor money, to at least make an attempt to speak "the language of the tour" and act interested in what they are doing?
Brad Jensen, via email
I respect Jan very much and perhaps her comments were misguided but she does have a right to say what she thinks. If anything, the LPGA could use some controversy and a wake up call before they are left out in the cold. Grouping all the wonderful players from the Asian countries is not how I would have stated it, but there is some truth to Jan's statements. Now let's finish the rest of the story and get on with the game.
Dave Daubert, via email
Let's face the real facts. The LPGA is a minor player in the professional golf world. There is only 1 star, Annika Sorenstam. Why else would the media be obsessed with promoting women playing with the men. The Solheim Cup event was not even watched by the Golfing Public. The LPGA is almost gone.
Del Foster, via email
If Jan Stephenson feels what she said is true, she is simply not putting any spin on the subject. A person of color can say damn near anything and catch no grief, but don't ever let a white person say what is on their mind. Enough already. If she's right or wrong, it's her choice to say what she believes to be the truth.
John McGonigal, via email
All people who speak the truth are criticized today. hooray for Jan Stephenson. Get rid of the boors who think the world owes them a living. No telling how many victories Jan would have if she hadn't been mugged by a good for nothing, too lazy to work, criminal. She and Nancy have done more for golf than the dykes and Asians, by far.
Ron Fogarty, via email
I'm getting tired of listening to all you geniuses pop off about what Jan said. My god, can't anyone say anything without being raked over the coals. You of course, and the golf grates at the Golf Channel have never made any stupid comments, eh? Why don't you and the rest of the dogs just bury the bone and go on to something more informative.
John Rogers, via email
It aggravates me beyond my ability to express it that an individual can no longer express an opinion without being attacked and vilified. It is her opinion; nothing more, nothing less. Oh, and by the way, she happens to be right!
Jim Dunkle, via email
I agree with your comments about Jan Stephenson's remarks about Asian players. She is just plain, very, very dumb person. I think she meant tha the Asian players killed "her chance of winning." She should be banned from the tour because she is a bad distraction for the players and the audience.
Edward H. Suh, via email
It is amazing to me that these supremacist views still manifest themselves publicly. Jan Stephenson let out some of her idiocy. How can she imply that Asian players are hurting the game? Are Swedish players hurting the game? I think not. True fans like good competition, and a diverse field helps to make that possible. Some people are better off mute.
G. Luke, via email
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