You are watching television. You see your favorite foreign boxer, Manny Pacquiao, who again just knocked out a titled contender. With a bloodied face and a dislocated nose, the opponent is still uncoordinated from the dizzying blows he received. You rise from your seat and shout in victory with your idolized athlete. And then, after the initial victory cries and congratulations, it is now time for the interview.

The interviewer asks, “So Manny, what can you tell us about your fight?”

Manny answers, “I umm.. ahh.. am happy about fight.”

Your favorite champion stutters and speaks in an English you cannot understand. You are disappointed and your confidence and awe for him is diminished. Indeed, in news, statistics, interviews and write-ups – the English language dominates the world of Sports.

Here are the reasons why learning English is important for the sports athlete:

  • As an athlete grows in achievements and fame, he is more exposed globally with fans that come from different countries and with different nationalities as well. With English as the most spoken language in the world, being able to express one’s self with an easy to understand English enables the athlete to communicate more effectively to fans. Moreover, he can reach more people, express his passion, and even educate listeners through his experiences.
  • Having a good grasp of English lets an athlete communicate better with his staff and coach. It is not uncommon for athletes who are non-native English speakers to have coaches and managerial or promotional staff who have English as their native language.
  • Learning English lets athletes have more opportunities to make money through advertisements. Most international companies like Nike use English as their medium for advertisements. It is common that they take in international sports athletes for their advertisements – sometimes requiring these non-native English speakers to utter a few lines to promote their products. Having a good grasp of English or at least an acceptable accent makes the athlete and the product he endorses more saleable. It will be difficult for people to buy sports drink from a sports figure who cannot even pronounce the product correctly.
  • It makes travelling and staying in other countries more enjoyable and comfortable. It is quite difficult and a bit of a drag to have a translator always following you around. You also do not get to talk to your promoters and business partners directly. It is possible that you may miss out on important details that your translator may fail to include in his translation.

Athletes must therefore not only excel in the sports they do – adding good English to their repertoire may not increase the level of their athletic performance. But, the English language will certainly add to their reputation, fame, salability to the public and the satisfaction of their fans who want to know them better. Learning English is easy and hiring a tutor is something a successful athlete can easily afford. For athletes who are just starting with their careers, learning through online English courses is an affordable option and can be of great help in the future.

I am sure your fans will be more than willing to buy “Red Bull,” and not really your “Red Burr.”

How about Manny Pacquiao? His English is improving now – he is aware that he needs to learn the English language, the current lingua franca of the world.