Wednesday, January 26, 2011

witless banter

Can you believe it ? They’ve allowed a Scots bloke to comment on football matches. Scots don’t know about football. How could they possibly understand the rules ? I mean, look at how lousy their national team is. There was a Scots bloke before who tried to do it, oh what’s his name.

When Andy Gray and Richard Keys said much the same about the assistant referee Sian Massey but in relation to her being female rather than Scottish they called it banter, a word largely used only by TV football people; when John Motson frequently observed ‘some lively banter in the crowd’ it usually meant they were shouting obscenities and trying to punch and kick the hell out of each other. Keys, prior to his resignation, amongst his unconvincingly defensive apologies mentioned sexist banter, claiming that it goes on in every football dressing room and is a part of the game. But it isn’t.

And anyway his conversation with Gray wasn’t just banter. There was a nastiness there, a male slobbiness, an arrogance, a conceit that they tried to smudge over all men who play, referee or just watch football. Don’t let women into the game, especially if they can’t even understand the offside rule. Haha. (As it happens I have heard many men, including premier league managers, say they don’t understand it but never a woman.)

Sian had the moral victory, showing in a most emphatic way that she knows all about the rule when she gave a marginal decison the right way during the Wolves v Liverpool match. But, through no fault of her own, she will be in the spotlight for some time, just what she didn’t want. And what if she had got it wrong, as all the flag carriers do many times; then she might not be seen on premier league grounds again. It was a close call for her, and still might be as every move of hers will be critically watched and clumsily commented on by the ever so predictable pundits.

Gray has been sacked, ostensibly for lewd remarks to a female TV presenter but they were sad little spoutings of a massive ego. It's the tackle on gender equality that backfired and brought him down. He is consulting lawyers (just as well he earned a fortune) and may even win whatever case he brings. The sentence having been passed, the evidence of bad character, however irrelevant, comes to light. Immediately after the sacking the Daily Mail treated its readers to “the sordid truth of Gray’s countless affairs”. Their point (apart from selling papers) is to tell us that he doesn’t think much of women and treats them with little respect. Yeah, thanks DM but we had worked that out already. They couldn’t possibly have unearthed all the tedious detail about his past and present love life so quickly and must have had it ready and waiting to pull out of their pockets as soon as the whistle blew on him. Red card for you mate, they are in effect saying, and here are all your previous offences to take into consideration. We have to kick you while you’re down ‘cause we know you’ll bounce up again. Andy will.

It’s not just tabloids, the whole of the media is loving it. Debate predictably flows across the phone-in shows and achieves its aim of polarising opinion. Just a joke. A disgrace. Prosecute him. Forgive and forget. Who cares! But whether or not he should have been sacked isn’t the issue. He should have resigned immediately and, if he had a sense of fair play, he would have done. It doesn't matter that it was off air; he was in a TV studio with microphones and he should have known better.

Whether or not he intended to be heard by millions is irrelevant; it is the underlying attitude that is unacceptable, not those particular words on that particular occasion. He publicy insulted someone who is an official figure in the sport he works in, someone who has the courage to do, not just to talk on and on about with the help of replays and snazzy technology that he so loves to play games with.

The reason accountability has to be forced on people is that most don’t volunteer it. If they can get away with wrong-doing then they will. Wait to see what public opinion makes of it then decide what to do. Hear the prosecution case before self-judgement. Doing the right thing ? No, doing the right thing for me.



At January 30, 2011 3:05 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well put, the only reason women don't understand the offisde rule is because they have no interest.


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