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Derek Taylor

Derek Taylor

"Derek has been an anchor on the Fox Soccer Report since 2007. His extensive background in North American sports and his fascination with math gives him an unusual perspective on soccer."


TANGENTS

Broadcasting 201: Controlling the Brain/Mouth Pathway

Written by on January 28, 2011 | 52 Comments »
Posted in General

Seeing Andy Gray and Richard Keys lose their jobs at Sky Sports, I can’t say I’m surprised.  There probably aren’t many who are.

In the era that we live in—hyper-sensitivity heaped onto us by self-righteous, self-flagellating bloggers and Tweeters—there wasn’t much else Sky could do.

The internet has the power to turn public opinion in a matter of minutes.  And changing minds back would be like fighting a staph infection…once it’s in the blood it’s very tough to get it out.

That said, as it involves two men who have been in broadcasting longer than I have, I’m stunned to see that the incidents happened.  Because they involve a lesson I learned long before I ever got my first job on air:

DON’T SAY ANYTHING WHEN A MICROPHONE IS IN THE ROOM!

Canadian sportscasting icon Jim Van Horne told me that when I worked at TSN.  Even if you think the mic is not on, someone can hear you, and it may be recorded.  I was a newsroom monkey, and even I had to be conscious of it.  Nothing is private with a microphone and camera in the room.

When I was about 22 I made a conscious decision to stop swearing in public situations.  People giggled at me at slo-pitch when my limp pop-out to 3rd base was punctuated with a “Golly” instead of “G-dam”.   But it had to be done because one inadvertent F-bomb can nuke your career.

Gray may have thought asking Charlotte Jackson to “tuck this in for me” was a joke between colleagues.  And maybe Jackson thought it was funny.  But we see now why you can’t ever say it.  As men we all have asked “would you smash that?” to another man.

We work in a business with women so attractive you’d step over your own mother to smell their perfume.  But as with the Ines Sainz/New York Jets debacle, my opinion remains constant—“boys will be boys, but men should be men.”

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52 Responses to “Broadcasting 201: Controlling the Brain/Mouth Pathway”

  1. Soccerlogical says:

    I for one think the punishment was way too harsh. Especially for a first offense and considering Karen Brady and other women in the industry have heard much worse said right to their face and have probably giggled and replied with their own saucy remark.

  2. Soccerlogical – absolute tripe.

  3. Soccerlogical says:

    There was no malice in their comments, just a few joking remarks (meant to be heard between the two) which reflect how a large percentage of male soccer fans feel. Anyone who says they are not taken aback when they see a female ref/lineswoman run onto the pitch in a top tier match is a liar.

  4. Soccerlogical says:

    I love how the same British “Suffragist” who are claiming that their comments are outrageous and they would never want their daughters to be subject to this type of treatment are the same pundits who constantly use the hip hop slang “WAX LYRICAL” in their podcasts and blogs to appear hip and open minded to thug culture…… “Negro Please!”.

  5. The “just banter” doesn’t fly anymore.Has history not taught us that accepting things because “the majority might think it” is hardly a defence and not a way to decide right and wrong.

    Bottom line is Gray and Keys went after the referee’s assistant not because of her performance but because she does not have a penis.

    What blogs, podcasts etc say or don’t say is irrelevant to Gray and Keys – invoking such a defence is like a five year old telling his or her parents that others were doing it as well.

  6. AntonioSaucedo says:

    The punishment doesn’t fit the crime. It’s too much. But you’re right, DT, they should’ve known better.

  7. Soccerlogical says:

    Come on Bobbo, not that ol reasoning again!

    In a world where every other woman has breast implants, Jessie Jackson threatens to “cut off the Obama’s balls”, Family Guy , South Park and oother popular shows and movies constantly mock midgets, blacks, jews, irish, aids, etc.

    An apology from Gray and Keys should have appeased the money grubbing politically correct suits over at SKY.

  8. rdm says:

    The punishment doesn’t fit the crime? When your job is to provide analysis and intelligent discourse during the course of a match but instead you question the abilities of a female official on the basis of her being female WHILE ON THE AIR and have a history of ridiculous and overtly sexist remarks both in private and public and it’s not a first time offense it’s a 3rd 4th or god only knows’th? Give me a break. Goodbye, you will not be missed, maybe next time save those comments for the… oh wait, they’re ridiculous no matter the setting, WHOOPS!

  9. Anyone who heard their comments would know that they weren’t joking or being ironic. They actually believed what they were saying.

    If they had been hugely popular presenters then maybe they could have survived, but their “Could Messi do it at Stoke?” attitude had defined them as two men stuck in a past that they didn’t want to move on from. This incident just confirmed how out of touch they were.

  10. Soccerlogical says:

    What the hell does “Messi scoring vs stoke” comment have to do with this.

    They weren’t popular… do you even watch EPL or WC matches my friend? Those 2 are all over the media and just had a guy moment (which happens in sport and the corporate world EVERY DAY). I guess you are too noble to have ever said anything racist, sexist or controversial among your buddies huh.

  11. SL- being “all over the media” doean’t mean that you are popular with the fans that are tuning in to watch the football.

    Everybody has said dumb things but the trick is to try to stop saying them and not just excuse it by saying that other people do the same.

  12. Gus Keri says:

    SL:

    “They weren’t popular… do you even watch EPL or WC matches my friend? Those 2 are all over the media”

    There is a big difference between “being popular” and “being imposed upon the viewers”

    Up until now, I don’t know why FOX decided to go for “Andy Gray”.

    I was hoping for “Bobby McMahon” on that World Cup show.

  13. jaelle says:

    soccerlogical’s posts on this issue are anything but logical – they’re ignorant and just plain idiotic. He brings up stuff that is totally irrelevant to the issue. Boob transplants and South Park, ffs! WTF has that to do with anything?

    It was NOT NOT NOT banter. If you actually listen to the tape, you could tell they meant what they said, they even sounded angry.

    The fact is that you cannot parade your personal bigotries AT WORK. Between you and your friends, in a pub, etc. you can say wtf you want. These guys said what they said at work quite loudly – and in front of female coworkers. If I talked like that at work I’d be fired immediately.

    And it’s obvious that people at sky wanted them out because they got no back-up from their employers at all and there were obvious video leaks of their “blokey” behavior. Those video leaks could only have come from someone at sky. And that person or persons were allowed to make those leaks quite freely.

  14. AntonioSaucedo says:

    I’m not trying to minimize what these two geniuses said. I just think the price they’re paying is too high. The moral of the story? For actuarial purposes, keep it clean when you’re around a microphone.

  15. Soccerlogical says:

    First of all, Gray’s comments regarding Messi are reasonable. There is NO guarantee that Messi would be as prolific a goalscorer/creator without Spain’s national team in his line-up. Although he had a good WC, there was an obvious difference in his goal/assist ratio when playing for Argentina and the same may or may not occur should he play for the likes of Man City, Chelsea or Liverpool where the team’s system is totally different and the league is more physical.

    Secondly, if Gray and Keys weren’t popular and insightful then we would see less of them. Keys is an excellent presenter and Gray is a very astute student of the game who has been hired by many international networks.

    Their firing depicts the confusion and hypocrisy of both Gov’t and Corporations where a President can stick a cigar in his intern’s private part in the oval office, Corp/Wall St fat cats get a slap on the wrist for sexual harassment and get financial bailouts yet two soccer commentators who used NO expletives in a few old skool sexist jokes intended for private banter… get the axe because of some pressure from hypocrites.

  16. Soccerlogical says:

    JAELLE – No one cares what would happen to someone at his 9-5 job should he have said the same thing to a male coworker. In high profile positions there is always controversy and these things happen all the time… and much much worse where there is less punishment.

    I love it when the average joe chimes in about “what would happen at his mundane job…. blah blah blah”.

  17. Napoleon/Russ says:

    Bobby

    1st – thank you for helping get this great game a platform again in the usa with fsc. appreciate it mightily. nasl might have lived if fsc were around in the 80′s.

    2nd – as a 47 yr old male, I cannot help but think back to the 1970′s and the bra burning that brought an equality (rightfully)for women in the workplace…that said, why can’t they take the heat that comes with that equality? I am not saying mr keys and mr gray were right per say, but I do sense a bit of an over-reaction here.

    Russ

  18. Derek Taylor says:

    If in that off-air exchange Gray and Keyes had said “She’s an idiot. She doesn’t know the offside rule” they would have been fine. No one should infringe on our right to call the referee/assistants “idiots”. To say that she doesn’t know the rule because she is a woman is just wrong. It’s indicative of a deeper-held belief about the status of men and women. Or, at best, of someone who just has not thought about the meaning conveyed by their everyday words.

  19. Derek Taylor says:

    @SL

    To say there is “no malice in their comments” may be true on some level. But if the comments come from a place where ‘I think women are inferior to the least of us men’, then the malice will shine through.

    We’ve all laughed to keep a superior or more-powerful person happy. It doesn’t mean we thought they were funny, felt the same about their comment, or are comfortable.

    Many years ago when I was working in a different sports newsroom a bunch of us were yakking about something. However I got to the topic, I ended up waxing idiotically about “If Malcolm X were alive today, what would he have to say about the sport of hockey? A bunch of white guys whacking a black puck around white ice.”

    In the end, I have no idea if it offended the black intern that we were working with. But he walked to and edit suite, it occurred to me that there might be something there. So I immediately went to him an apologized. He said “no big deal” and thanked me for apologizing. It seemed harmless to me, but I long ago started understanding that how I see the world and where I perceive slights doesn’t apply for everyone.

  20. Russ says:

    Derek

    Your comment: “She’s an idiot. She doesn’t know the offside rule” they would have been fine….

    I am not sure they would be fine.

    In todays hypersensitive world, I doubt that would be considered ok and nothing would have happened to them. If not fired, then certainly some firestorm would brew.

    keep up the good work and thanks!

    I can’t wait till tonight and the 1976 FA cup final FSC are re-playing. In 1976 we only dreamed about watching these games!

    Russ

  21. Soccerlogical says:

    Derek – Watching the vids on youtube, it seems like Gray’s and Key’s humor was quite prevalent and accepted as evidenced by several other male and female anchors, commentators, cameramen, etc.

    So why now and why so harsh a punishment? As a corporation, shouldn’t SKY have had HR set up sensitivity training if this was getting out of hand or something?

    Just hypocrisy if you ask me.

  22. Bredred says:

    SL you should really look Gray or Keyes on twitter. Overwhelming amount of people wanted him gone, and not just for the sexist comments. His analysis and arguments were always weak at best.

  23. Soccerlogical says:

    We can’t put ourselves in the same scenarios as political figures and athletes who have represented their countries and other high profile figures. The rules are different and they get more slack… that’s a fact!

    Mitterrand had a public mistress, Clinton had a “cigar”, Ted Kennedy, JFK, MLK, OJ Simpson, Kobe, Phil Spector, Isiah Thomas…

  24. Eoin O'Callaghan says:

    The fact remains that, irregardless of how good/bad Keys and Gray are at their job, they erred. Gray is an analyst of the game and to be calling into question how efficient an official is based on that person’s gender, be it on-camera or off it, is a HUGE problem for any employer. For all we know, the camera operator in studio was a female (not that a male could not also have been offended too) and suddenly, there’s a discrimination issue in a work environment. Let’s bring it back – Ron Atkinson fired from SKY for being racist, which is a form of discrimination. Now, how can SKY set a precedent for themselves with that example and stand idly by when blatant sexism rears its ugly head a few years later? And the argument of ‘boys will be boys’ is something men say who actively make errors based on school-yard idiocy. I’m sorry but it doesn’t hold up. For individuals who work in film, television, radio, print, you’ve got added responsibility to not make mistakes because your head is above the parapet. Make silly mistakes and get ready for the rallying cries asking for your head. Also, in this situation, the pair had to go based on such a heavy female presence at the station. If they kept their jobs, how would that make the female workers feel everyday? Would Charlotte Jackson feel intimidated every time she went to present SKY SPORTS NEWS, just because a prehistoric 50s caricature had made his feeling known about women involved with the country’s most popular sport? The story has wider, job-orientated repercussions and SKY were left with no choice.

  25. Gus Keri says:

    SL”

    You are going way overboard with all these political references.

    Watch this piece:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5Ghz1n8N18

    What should poor Charlotte do in your opinipon? Should she accept this kind of behaviour?

  26. Soccerlogical says:

    So telling a co-presenter “tuck this in luv” off air is ok, while judging the merit of a ref (off air) based on their gender is wrong?

    If the problem was so prevalent within SKY culture then Human Resources should have addressed it a while ago as opposed to such a drastic action.

    PS Eoin – Come on admit it, you’re just scared that Lissel will put a laxative in your coffee while your on live TV!

  27. Soccerlogical says:

    GUS – That situation was ENTIRELY the producer’s fault as she/he lacked the balls to nip it in the bud and have HR brief Andy on that sort of behavior. Sky execs let them get away with it and stoked the fire!

  28. Eoin O'Callaghan says:

    Soccerlogical…Are you indeed Andy Gray or Richard Keyes? Also, I prefer tea.

  29. rdm says:

    So now it’s Sky’s fault for not acting to curtail this before it got obviously out of hand? The obviousness being what was said while on air where children and who knows how many other impressionable people are viewing. Whether or not Sky should have done something before now to have prevented it from getting to this point is 100% a different discussion. They acted and the result was 2 men released from jobs for overt sexism while on the air and numerous off air incidents, full stop. I believe SkySports are fully within their rights to do that. Could they have done things leading up to this to maybe prevent it from coming this far? Maybe, but again, that’s not the argument we’re having here and trying to shift the focus onto that point isn’t helping your case.

  30. Theo van Nasregas says:

    Derek,

    You’ve opened up a can of worms here. But it’s a discussion that is beneficial as most touchy subjects are. Thanks for sharing some of your personal experiences on the matter with us.

    Eoin – I’m offended with your use of the word “irregardless” as it doesn’t exist. We’ve got to stamp out the use of the word.

  31. Michael Sebold says:

    SL – Best advice I ever heard: When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

    You might also benefit from the reflections of one Mr. Lincoln, who once remarked on something similar.

  32. Derek Taylor says:

    I think SL makes a good point about Sky’s culpability here. Not organizationally necessarily. I don’t believe (or don’t want to believe) there’s an established culture of sexism. All it would have taken is one superior to pull Gray aside and say “Hey…your humor is offending some people here. Get it in line.”

    A single two-minute conversation from someone in authority a few years ago and Gray would probably still have his job.

  33. Soccerlogical says:

    Derek’s piece has nothing to do with this debate. All he did was just repeat the old adage of “the walls have ears” and “don’t sh&% where you sleep”.

    The point is SKY are a bunch of hypocrites for their sever punishment when they should have had their HR address the problem at the outset. And have the show;s producer remind a popular and successful footballer like Andy gray who is used to having his way in life and living in a bubble (as most footballers do) that he needs to tone it down.

    And I don’t wanna hear that moronic complaint of what about the impressionable children! I don’t hear any complains when they watch South Park, Family Guy or other media. Raise your own kids!!!!!!

  34. idahobrit says:

    I have to say I support the line taken by both Derek and Bobby. To blandly respond by pointing out how others have got away with similar discretions is to support the five year old’s plea.
    Whether the punishment fits the crime will be debated for as long as humanity exists; nevertheless, apart from the obvious prejudice exhibited in the comments about Ms. Massey, in this case it has been widely reported in the UK as to the work environment in the Sky Sports Football department under Keys/Gray. It is quite apparent that these two were accustomed to spewing out their immediate thoughts with no consideration or reflection behind what they uttered, and at ease with the fact that there would be no recourse. Well I guess that this occasion was the proverbial straw …
    Gray has kept silent, so far, whereas Keys grandly added fuel to the fire with his astonishing ‘defence’ on Talksport Radio.
    I’ll miss Gray, but not Keys; I’ll never forget Gray’s Sunday afternoon analysis, witnessed on a brief trip to England 4 years ago, of how Mourinho changed Chelsea’s tactics and formation of play frequently during a game in order to a) get back from a losing position, and b) subsequently win it. At the time I came home wishing that we could see this repeated over here on FSC, that game and others analysed were riveting and educating.
    Both will turn up in jobs elsewhere I’m sure, though I’m sure Keys will never find as good a prop to his career as Gray had become.

  35. Theo van Nasregas says:

    Derek,

    Your comment at the end of the article about attractive women on the set is interesting. I don’t see many unattractive women reading the sporting news on the air. If they’re both knowlegeable/qualified on the sport they cover and attractive then I have no problem with them doing such a job. But I seriously wonder how many beautiful women really know the sport they are covering at the level that warrants their position. I’m sure some are. But I think the proliferation of ladies doing on air broadcasting has a lot to do with increasing the ratings. Maybe some will consider the observation to be sexist but I don’t consider myself to be a man of discrimination.

  36. Pete says:

    Eoin O’Callaghan: No such word as irregardless, just use regardless. “Do us a favour Love” ; )

  37. Derek Taylor says:

    Theo,

    I’ve come to think of it this way. I’ve seen numerous people get jobs they perhaps didn’t deserve at that exact moment, mainly because they were not another white male (there are a ton of us white guys in sports broadcasting). But the bosses saw potential in each of those people.

    I once got a job because the boss thought they were overweighted in women in that capacity, and wanted to add a man. So it’s worked against me and in my favor in my career.

    In the end I don’t begrudge anyone using anything unique about themselves to get a job. If I wanted a job and the boss was a huge Simpsons fan and math nerd, I’d certainly pull out Homer’s “isoceles triangle” reference from Season 6. I think that how you get in the door is not important. It’s what you do once you’re inside that counts.

  38. Derek Taylor says:

    Pete

    You reminded me of the most ironic part of the Gray/Keys exchange. They’re commenting on Karren Brady’s sexism comment, then (Gray?) responds with a sexist comment “Do me a favor love.”

    Game, set, match.

  39. Soccerlogical says:

    This will get deleted, I apologize.

    A while back, my friend didn’t know he was dating a “cam model”. A month into their relationship, he noticed a variety of “toys” in her closet. He got on her laptop to find out what site she was working for in order to see what exactly she “performs” on cam.

    He went on her site and paid to view her show which conisted of “contortions” with various “toys” among other obscene acts.

    He started chatting with her and requesting various acts to see how far she would go… he finally couldn’t take it anymore and just called her a “cam wh&#!” in the chat room to which she replied to this “stranger”…. “Baby, don’t call me that, it’s disrespectful!”

    HILARIOUS!!!!!!

  40. Derek Taylor says:

    Russ:

    Obviously you can’t say the hypothetical “she’s an idiot” comment on the air. But if it was the comment off air, then it SHOULD be fine. It should be no different than someone, off air, saying “Howard Webb is an idiot for not sending off Nigel de Jong against Spain.”

    Whether it would be perceived as sexist depends a lot on the speaker and the listener.

  41. Theo van Nasregas says:

    Derek,

    Is it just a coincidence that we don’t see overweight and average looking women reading the sporting news? I think qualifications are very important when it comes to getting a job. Otherwise, that too is a form of discrimination. You are far more likely to see an unattractive man on the set than an unattractive woman. Take Soccer Report, for example, with mugs of the like of Bobby, Eoin, and yourself, you fine gentlemen are never going to win a beauty contest :)

  42. Soccerlogical says:

    Theo – You are confusing analysts like Bobby M and Andy Gray with reporters who read monitors. Entirely different things. Terry Leigh for instance seemed like a sweetheart but wouldn’t know a soccer ball if it hit her pretty lil head. She and others basically read the teleprompter and report on days events.

  43. Russ says:

    Derek

    Thanks for the reply and the forum to express our thoughts.

    I think that comment “off air” would cause almost as much troubles if said “on air”.

    … “on air” & “off air” imo is not that different in todays all consuming media world.

    It should be different, yes, but you media folks have a paper thin layer of ice to traverse on now in this hypersensitive world of 2011.

    If big brother/sister is not watching, he/she
    is at least listening, and that is what happened to mr’s gray & keys.

    thanks again!

    Russ

  44. Derek Taylor says:

    Theo,

    Good-looking dudes get breaks in TV as well.

    And inferring from who is left out of your last statement, I’ll tell Jeremy about your man-crush on him :)

  45. John Bladen says:

    A good article, Derek. I can’t believe some are still attempting to suggest this was ‘nothing’ or just boys being boys…

    If Gray & Keys wanted to wax poetic about the ‘problem’ of females in the game, they were perfectly free to go for a pint and do so quietly after the game (It would still be appalling, but it is their right to be pigs in private if they wish). They chose to make these comments in a public setting (I appreciated your comment re: Van Horne. I think everyone in broadcasting – and many outside it – realize that the mic is never completely off, particularly in the satellite age). There can be no doubt that they deserved firing. If they had any moral compass at all, they would have resigned once the comments became public, not waited to be fired.

    It isn’t just about the comments made on air, either. Yesterday, Massey was removed from officiating a L2 match at Crewe (I believe) because of the media attention surrounding the match (100′s of requests for credentials at a league two match??). So now, Massey has lost an assignment not because of anything she did, but because of misogynist dinosaurs like Keys & Gray shooting their big mouths off.

    Nice work, boys. You’ve just proved the argument made by everyone who has ever complained about the old boys network in the game.

  46. John Bladen says:

    SL:

    Are you actually suggesting that it is Sky’s fault that Andy Gray doesn’t know when to shut up? That they should make allowances for his poor impulse control?

    He was hired to do commentary on football. It is a professional job and requires professional skills. Don’t think for a second that Sky didn’t explain what was required of him when he was hired, and put him through courses designed to improve the areas in which he had/has deficiencies.

    Your comment about Ms. Leigh is offensive. Is there some reason you felt the need to include a comment on her appearance? How does it relate to ability, please?
    While on FSR I thought she demonstrated good football knowledge. I’ve no idea if she has a background in the game or not prior to FSR, but she did a credible job while at the desk. Is there some reason other than her gender that you believe made her substandard? Please cite examples.

    Maybe A.Gray isn’t the only one with impulse control issues?

  47. Theo van Nasregas says:

    Derek,

    If Jeremy is a Gooner then he’s alright in my books.

    And here’s hoping you do not become a victim of PC in this hypersensitive world if you slip up without a prior reprimand.

    I’ll raise a glass to that. Cheers.

  48. Soccerlogical says:

    Bladen – You obviously have as much soccer knowledge and insight into the game as as she does.

    And I assume you were the one who lectured SKY employees at their annual sensitivity courses since you are so sure that SKY suits and HR Dept. warned Andy Gray, eh?

    (((THREAD COP: Careful everyone. It’s a forum for sharing ideas, we’re nudging up on the line drawn on name calling.)))

  49. idahobrit says:

    @ Thread Cop … maybe you should institute the graphics employed by the Beeb on its text commentaries … handbags, yellow/red cards, etc …?

  50. Russ says:

    Fill in the _____ with your image of the thread cop.

    Jack WEBb from dragNET?

    j/k.

  51. John Bladen says:

    So that would be an admission that you have no examples to back up your statements then, SL?

    If you want debate, you must debate, not just name call.

  52. Soccerlogical says:

    Bladen – Go watch any of the Monday or Friday shows where she anchored with Bobby M.

    If you can’t tell that she had absolutely no comments to add to their conversations other than common phrases like “Rooney is scoring goals” and “Barclona play exciting soccer” then I suggest you stick to Wynalda, Lalas, Big Soccer and Trecker.

    The girl’s job was to look pretty and read a monitor, and that’s fine.

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