SBD/13/Leagues Governing Bodies

LPGA FACES THE FIRST "COMING OUT" BY ONE OF ITS PLAYERS

     In the current issue of SI, 18-year LPGA Tour veteran Muffin
Spencer-Devlin speaks openly about her lesbian lifestyle.  In the
wake of last year's Ben Wright controversy, the responses from
tour officials "sounded like spin."  SI's Garrity & Nutt note,
"That's because the issue of lesbians in golf has usually been
framed in terms of their perceived impact on the LPGA."  LPGA
President Vicki Fergon:  "I applaud Muffin.  I'm not saying every
player will be thrilled about it, but we're a family and we
respect each other."  LPGA Tour Commissioner Jim Ritts:  "I don't
think I'm naive, but I don't have any concerns about this."
Spencer-Devlin said rumors that small network TV audiences and
open dates have something to do with perceived lesbianism on tour
had nothing to do with her decision.  Spencer-Devlin:  "I'm not
anybody's mouthpiece and I don't want to be perceived as such."
Spencer-Devlin, who plans to exchange vows in May with composer
Lynda Roth, says lesbians are a "minority" on the tour.  Spencer-
Devlin is sponsored by MET-RX, USA Inc. (a food supplement
manufacturer), and Callaway Golf.  Callaway President Don Dye:
"If it doesn't interfere with her ability to hit a golf ball and
she continues to show the kind of integrity that she clearly
does, she's our kind of spokesperson."  The piece adds, "To the
LPGA any unpleasantness surrounding the coming out is outweighed
by the benefits of having a face to put on its lesbian
community."  Ritts:  "When you label someone with a single word,
a stereotype gets attached, and the individual's real qualities
get clouded" (SI, 3/18 issue).
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