You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t write about sexism as a female football writer. If you write about it you feel like you’re putting too much emphasis on your own gender when it should be about the writing and if you don’t write about it you’re guilty of not standing up for what you are passionate about.
I purposely didn’t write about Andy Gray’s BT Sport debut. Everyone deserves a second chance when they have served their time and for the most part Gray’s return seemed to be a successful endeavour, mainly because he wasn’t Michael Owen.
Then this little gem surfaced.
Whoever is punishing Andy Gray and Richard Keys for their past indiscretions seem to be attempting some sort of Pavlovian conditioning exercise. Every time they get a new job, say something ridiculous and/or reveal another conspiracy theory…DING a new piece of footage appears on YouTube.
Classical conditioning is a mode of learning that trains its subjects to behave a particular way. When Pavlov observed behaviour in cainines he noticed that when a dog was fed it began to salivate. He then began to perform the same repetitive action towards the dog and they still salivated because they assumed that they were about to eat. The action therefore conditioned the animal into thinking what had happened before would happen again.
Behavioural changes don’t appear to have worked on Keys and Gray so far. Despite the best attempts of those releasing the videos to hold a mirror up to the pundit’s behaviour they continue to look back and insist they’re being set up.
When the ‘smash it’ footage came out, instead of displaying remorseful behaviour the pair set up after dinner speaking events with ringing endorsements from construction companies and people who still use the term ‘quality banter’.
When the video of Gray thrusting a microphone shoved down his pants towards Sky’s Charlotte Jackson, they were given a daily Talksport radio show.
I wonder what the footage of them singing ‘get your tits out for the lads’ to Claire Tomlinson will bring them DING DING DING?
Each sexist comment leaves them salivating at the next contract they’ll be offered to present football shows, whilst professional female sports journalists are being harassed online for deigning to present Match of the Day on a Saturday evening. (Good god Gabby what were you thinking!!)
The pair have continued to be rewarded by the old boys network without showing an ounce of remorse and that’s the part that pains me.
I actually have Andy Gray to thank because he inspired this blog. I started writing again because of his ‘women don’t understand the offside rule’ comment against assistant referee Sian Massey, hence the title of the blog.
The pair’s Bernard Manning approach to football punditry makes me want to shout louder to be heard, so thank you boys. You have conditioned a new breed of female football writers to continue to succeed in what they are passionate about. DING DING DING.
One day the old boys football network will stop feeding the salivating dogs, maybe that’s when their behaviour will start to change but I’m sure a World Cup presenting job is on the cards in Qatar before that bell rings.