Sunday, 30 January 2011

Final word on the Sky Sports sexism row

I’ve been amazed at just how much this Andy Gray and Richard Keys sexism story has snowballed in the last week.

Their comments on Sian Massey were wrong, but I do feel they’ve been forced out of their jobs on Sky more because of their own unpopularity on the channel rather than for what they've actually said.

First things first, their opinions that women don’t understand offside were stupid and ignorant.

The offside rule isn’t difficult to understand. It’s one of the great football clichés that offside is some incomprehensible rule that takes years to master.

Here’s how I describe the offside rule: The space on the pitch between the last defender and the goalkeeper is offside – Simples!

The only people who don’t understand offside are those that have no interest or understanding of football.

There’s no reason why women can’t be assistant refs. As long as you can keep up with play, raise your flag at the right moments, and spot any infringements by players you'll be fine doing the job.

As bad as Andy Gray and Richard Key’s comments were, did they actually affect the performance of Sian Massey during the game between Wolves and Liverpool?

Massey’s performance last weekend proved how wrong Gray and Keys were. That should have been the end of it. A slap on the wrist and public apology from the two of them, and we would have heard no more.

What did it for Gray and Keys was the leaking of more clips of them privately making further inappropriate comments. Where did these ‘leaks’ suddenly start coming from?

Last Tuesday I was tweeting that it was obvious that Gray and Keys had upset some people at Sky and the leaking of these video clips was payback time.

I’ve read quite a few reports over the last week saying that Gray and Keys weren’t popular or well liked amongst staff at Sky.

The impression that comes out is that they were arrogant and a bit full of themselves who bullied some members of staff. If they were really popular and well liked at Sky I can’t believe these further video clips would have been leaked.

Ok, maybe they weren’t the nicest people to work for, but there are thousands of people who are rude, unpopular and bully their staff at work all over the country. A lot of them can be very good at their jobs.

If there’s one thing that’s occurred to me over the last week it’s the failure of people to distinguish the difference between private and public life.

The comments that really did it for Gray and Keys weren’t public broadcasts, but were private comments said to work colleagues.

How many people have made comments in private that are politically incorrect whether intentional or not? If all our private conversations were made public and influenced our positions and abilities at work, then people would be losing their jobs everyday of the week.

Go to any football match and you’ll hear comments and language, which in most offices would be unacceptable. The bloke shouting idiotic abuse on the terraces one weekend could be a highly successful and articulate CEO during the week. Are all our private thoughts and comments meant to be used against us to say we’re unsuitable for our jobs?

I know Andy Gray wasn’t every football fans favourite, but I never had a problem with him. His co commentary had become the voice of Sky Sports and part of me will miss him, he was good at what he did.

I’m just not falling for some of the manufactured shock and outrage the some people are expressing with regards to Gray and Keys.

They made some ignorant comments in private, with further comments made public because of their unpopularity and not because of some great cause for sexual equality.

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