Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sky Sports right to fire sexist presenters?

A well-known male presenter on Sky Sports UK was fired today for comments he  made about a female soccer referee. He questioned her ability to ref the game solely based on her gender ... on air! Well, accidentally "live" but still.

Yes, fired, gone, out the door. Andy Gray is a former player and beloved by soccer fans. I was talking about this with my soccer-mad flatmate yesterday and she thought he was too high-profile to be fired but she was hoping. Me? I was being cynical. But it really seems that things are changing.  Richard Keys was suspended with him.  Sky Sports released this statement: "Richard Keys and Andy Gray have been stood down from duty for tonight’s televised match between Bolton and Chelsea, Sky Sports have confirmed in a statement. The Presenters have been removed from ’Monday Night Football’ after making comments off-air about Premier League official Sian Massey. Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, said: “It has been made clear to each of them that their comments were totally unacceptable.”

So what do we think - is it right to fire someone for this kind of comment? Should they be "re-educated"  - is it possible to re-design old white sportsmen for the new era of women and blokes from other countries?

9 comments:

Emmet Ryan said...

One quick clarification, Keys is currently still only suspended but I expect him to go.

The uplifting part of this whole saga has been the way Football fans, irrespective of gender, have rallied together in support of Massey and against Keys/Gray. I tweeted Georgina Turner on Sunday asking what she thought would happen and, like me, assumed a weak apology would be the extent of it.

Sky's decision to axe Gray fully is a big step forward. I'll hopefully get a chance to blog about this in full this evening (more on the reaction than the incident itself). The problem with sexism in British Football, and it is far worse in the UK and by geography Ireland than most, is that it's really a symptom of a wider problem of ignorance within the power structures as a whole.

London Is Cool said...

I would dispute your comment that he said anything live on air, because he never! It was recorded when they were off air and leaked to the press! Just saying!

And for the record I think Gray and Keys are both dinosaurs! I also feel that all these videos that have suddenly appeared out of the woodwork are just a Murdock smokescreen! I wonder if Andy Gray wasn't suing over the phone tappings if this would have happened...

And Emmet Ryan if you think it is a big step forward you are having a laugh, when is the last time you set foot inside a men's football dressing room, banter like this is rife! Do you watch Loose Woman, is that not just harmless female banter or is it something else...

niamh said...

@ Emmet - thanks for clearing that up, wouldn't want to defame the man! It's definitely a sea-change in attitude, I wonder what kind of effect it will have on other presenters who might share their views but are just smart enough not to say them out loud?

@ London is Cool - True, true! The dangers of the wandering microphone. Interesting point about the phone tappings, wheels within wheels.

Anonymous said...

Well I'm French so getting very tired of all the stupidity that goes around soccer especially after this last world cup... Sexism is one aspect ... It's a huge undertaking to try to raise the bar and maybe I am being cynical but I don't really think Sky sports want to genuinely do this. They probably want to get rid of two Neanderthals and avoid sexism "on air" which is fine ... Well it goes in the right direction doesn't it? But for the rest, good luck to people who want to really make this potentially fantastic sport more respectable!

niamh said...

@ Anon - It is the right direction. Sport can be seen as a microcosm of what goes on in the rest of the world, but as we hold players up as role-models there should be a higher standard of behaviour from everyone concerned .... in the ideal world. Not that many male soccer players are great role-models - in the English-speaking world anyhow.

Emmet Ryan said...

@London is Cool, this is a bit of a straw man argument as you basically imply that the only possible step forward is total resolution rather than seeing attitudes progress over time. It's also unfair to generalise about either gender that way.

I played in four sports which would have been considered macho and the attitudes clearly evolved over the time I played them.

The reason it's a big step forward is that the bulk of Football fans, and it was fans I was really impressed by, again irrespective of gender stood up and said they wouldn't stand for this. That's something those of us who follow Football should appreciate.

@Niamh, It will be Sunday before I get the post up, should give me ample time for reflection and analysis. A friend is returning a favour of making dinner for them last week tonight and I'm off to Glasgow for the weekend.

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't know whether this was accidentally released on air, but I can't help but wonder why Sky Sports was suddenly so keen to defend women. How many sports presenters does Sky Sports have? And how many of them do not have nice legs and big busts? Maybe those presenters deserved to be fired, but isn't it a bit pretentious? If they hire two average-looking women to fill their place, I will reconsider...

carine said...

Yeah come on! It's not because Sky wants to get rid of those old machos that they are fighting sexism in their football shows ...I just watched an extract of a Sky Saturday morning sports show on the 10 o'clock live ...and that was sexist indeed!!!! That's what we call it when a young sexy blond girl is used to do some stupid moves in a tiny denim short right? But I hear your point Emmet, a lot of supporters are much better than what is broadcast in those shows ... I should hope so ... I married one!So let's hope it will evolve slowly but surely in the right direction "from the base of supporters" ... I'm trying hard to be positive!

niamh said...

@ Anon - I did an internet search on female SS presenters, found an article saying they were told by bosses to "sex-up" their act in 2008. Nice. I wonder how they are feeling about all of this?

@ Carine - I'm starting to think this has more to do with Grey's case against Murdock - as mentioned by London is Cool above - than anything else. It seems he has been making comments like this for years? Am still hopeful that it is a sign of the times, even a superficial change for the wrong reason can have a good effect eventually?!

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