October 5, 2005
Written by C.N.
Many of you have probably heard of Michelle Wie, a Korean American from Hawai’i who has set the golf world on fire and is being described as the female equivalent of Tiger Woods. She is getting ready to turn 16 (still just a teenager!) and to turn professional. She has already played in a few professional men’s PGA tour events as an amateur but as she gets ready to turn pro, as this article by Reuters describes, the debate about whether to allow her to play against men on a regular basis is intensifying:
The Hawaiian-born teenager should concentrate on smashing records in the women’s game rather than joining the men’s tour, according to [former European Tour executive director Ken] Schofield. “The history of golf is of men playing men and women playing against women. That has stood the test of time so why should we change it? “Are we talking about a civil liberty issue here, a restraint of trade? I don’t think so,” Schofield said. . . .
In Schofield’s opinion, it is not Wie’s ability that is in question, rather the direction the sport should take. “There is the great history of the women’s game to consider,” he told Britain’s Guardian newspaper. “The U.S. Women’s Open dates back to 1946 and its roll call of champions includes the likes of Babe Zaharias, Mickey Wright and of course Annika (Sorenstam). “Attempting to add their names to that list is where all aspiring women’s golfers — Wie included — should focus efforts. “The structure of golf is not best served by mixing up the issues of men versus women.”
I suppose there is something to be said for having separate tours for each gender, as is done with virtually all other professional sports, including tennis, soccer, basketball, etc. But this rationale that women athletes should only strive to outdo other female athletes strikes me as a little sexist and patriarchal. I tend to agree with what Jim Rome, a nationally popular sports radio host and commentator, has already said regarding this situation — if Michelle has game, let her play with the men. Ultimately, to be the best, you have to compete with and beat the best, regardless of what gender they are.
Up to this point, there has not been any talk of what effect, if any, Michelle’s status as an Asian American has to do with it the talk surrounding her. Let’s hope it stays that way. Michelle should be judged on her talent and her performance, not by her status as a woman or an Asian American.
Having said that, I think it would be a huge morale boost to the Asian American community to see her succeed, although it is a little unfair to put that kind of pressure on one person (especially when she’s not even 16 yet).
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Michelle Wie Turning Pro" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2005/10/michelle-wie-turning-pro/> ().
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