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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