OOPS! The Curse of the Live Mic Strikes Again!

Last year, the world heard Gordon Brown call Gillian Duffy a bigoted woman, thanks to a live radio mic, which he assumed was switched off and it may well have helped him lose the election.

This weeks OOPS! award has to go to Richard Keys and Andy Gray, for their live mic blunder on Sky Sports Saturday. They we're talking, off-air (as they thought) about female linesman, Sian Massey and what they saw as her inability to understand the offside rule. Then they threw in a comment about a piece by West Ham vice-chairman, Karen Brady in one of the morning papers, adding, Do me a favour, love the games gone mad! Well done, boys a true case of foot-in-mouth disease!

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There's been a lot of outrage across the media about this this morning, which I find encouraging. No, I don't beat the PC drum I tend to think that too much political correctness only serves to aggravate the problems it's meant to solve, by putting people on the defensive; but the outrage is encouraging because it shows that attitudes are changing. Not so long ago, this blunder wouldn't have been remarked on and if it we're mentioned, their opinions would have been subtly justified. Today, the FA has come out in support of female officials and execs and Sky Sports has acknowledged the gaff.

In the lads defence, they won't have been in control of switching their mics on and off and they did think they we're off-air. They thought they we're having a private conversation. No, I'm not defending them for being old-fashioned, arrogant male chauvinists they can't help that bless em! and they have apologised. I'm just pointing out that they probably wouldn't have made those views public by choice. We all have the capacity to say things in private which we wouldn't want broadcast literally or metaphorically. When I'm in the studio, I'm always nervous about what I say even when I'm assured my mic is down! Probably best to keep those opinions for the pub after the game, boys!

I think the healthiest response to the whole business came from Ex-exec vice-chairman of Millwall, Heather Rabbatts, who pointed out that being a match official is tough on anyone, man or woman. The number of women in the game is increasing steadily, she said and the only way to change attitudes is to go on redressing the balance between the sexes. As a woman, she said that if a man made a direct sexist remark, you have the chance to counter it directly; but she also pointed out that you could choose to treat it with humour and get on with the job.

This story got my attention because it ties in with two issues which are very close to my heart:

1 How carefully we need to think about our audience and how well we need to know who they are even when we don't think they're listening; and

2 what it takes to succeed as a woman, in any business but especially one which is traditionally male-dominated.

One ingredient in the recipe for a successful woman has to be a good sense of humour/perspective! Speaking as a businesswoman and someone with a disability I've had quite a few ill-informed comments on both counts over the years. I find the best approach is to treat them with the contempt they deserve to remember that everyone has to take flack at some stage and if someone cant/wont think beyond an obvious target, they're more to be pitied than blamed. These guys have been called dinosaurs. The bad news is, lads, the dinosaurs died out

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Posted in Business Post Date 08/24/2018


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