The LPGA has backed down on its proposal to require tour members to be proficient in English in the face of criticism. My personal criticism of the now defunct rule was not that it was discriminatory, but that it would deprive the tour of many of its best players. I noted that the NBA would never consider banning Yao Ming for poor vocabulary.
One comment to the previous post by frequent reader Bartman suggests that while “the NBA might love Yao Ming, but they’d hate having 3 Chinese starters on every team.”
That’s a thought-provoking statement with which I think I ultimately disagree, and I believe the data back me up. While the economics literature is full of papers that show that consumer discrimination exists in sports, most of these papers adjust for player quality. Therefore, while a white fan may prefer Larry Bird or Mickey Mantle to roughly equally talented black players such as Magic Johnson or Hank Aaron, the same data also show that white fans nearly always prefer a black star to a white scrub. While Mantle’s baseball cards sell for more than Aaron’s, Aaron’s still sell for more than Joe Shlabotnik’s.
Remember, the NBA’s fan base is largely white despite an overwhelming percentage of African American players, and Arsenal remains one of the mosts popular sides in the EPL despite fielding almost no English players. If China brings 3 starters to every team each with the skills of LeBron, Kobe, or KG, the NBA will quickly learn to love these players.