It seems that the sports world, or at least football fans in Great Britain, are understandably and correctly up in arms over something we here in the United States are fairly used to by now, sexism in professional sports.
Sian Massey was the assistant referee this past weekend during a match between Wolverhampton and Liverpool. It was her second match in England’s top flight, arguably the most popular league in the world. I do not recall seeing her first match myself, but I did see this one and she did a fine job. But as we all know by now, putting in a commendable effort is not always enough for a woman trying to break into the boys club known as professional sports.
During the broadcast of the game on Sky Sports, Andy Gray and Richard Keys, two longtime football commentators, remarked that she was incapable of handling her job because she was a woman. The two thought their microphones were cut when they made the comments, which only makes them imbecilic as well as sexist. In the days since the games, Keys has resigned and Gray was fired. Neither the commentators nor Sky Sports has much to be proud of here in the handling of the situation.
Do I really need to point out how remarkably stupid and backward these two “pundits” were when they decided to make these remarks? I simply refuse to believe that anyone born after the Paleolithic age truly believes a woman incapable of judging offsides because of her gender. No, this is like every other such reactions to social change. It’s based on fear and general ignorance.
Thankfully, few if any have come to the defense of these two cavemen and neither will be working any longer in a field they obviously needed to retire from long before this weekend. But I can’t help but thinking this is something of a Captain Renault moment for many speaking out against Keys and Gray. While I applaud their denunciations, its time for them to do their part in helping to break the barriers that women face in professional sports. Its easy to criticize the club, and its even easy to change the club’s rules, but it’s much, much harder to change hearts and minds of its members.