Saturday 22 October 2016

Brolly's Baywatch jibe is just setting the scene

Joe Brolly (RTE1) Rory McIlroy (SKY SPORTS NEWS)

Published 26/05/2014 | 02:30

Joe Brolly
Joe Brolly

THE games haven't even started yet on Sky, and already Paddy is apologising. I warned of this a few weeks ago, pointing out that the arrival of Sky into our gaelic world may have quite a few unintended consequences for all parties.

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It didn't strike me at the time that the first flashpoint might involve a denigration of Rachel Wyse, but that's the way with unintended consequences – one wonders what outrages as yet undreamed of, are waiting to be born?

All we know for sure, is that the swift apology by Joe Brolly for his very poor "Baywatch babe" jibe may not be the last time that Paddy feels the need to recant, between now and the end of September. Maybe the simplest thing, would be to apologise in advance, for whatever else may be coming down the track.

And next time it may not just be words that someone wants to take back. There may also be the odd "schemozzle" that wouldn't portray us in the kindest light if replayed 14 times in the one day on Sky Sports News, with suitably moralistic commentary.

At the heart of this new dynamic, is the fact that we tend to change our behaviour only when we are in fear of the ridicule of foreigners – which was never an issue before in gaelic games, where we could blast away in the knowledge that hardly anyone except ourselves was taking an interest.

The Sky deal changes that, exposing us to the judgement of the rest of the world, with all the psychic trauma that this must entail.

Joe Brolly had already stated his opposition to the deal, on broadly cultural and ideological grounds – he is an ardent nationalist – so his objections go beyond his distaste for Sky's "entrenched beautiful anchor formula".

After all, even a "Sunday Game" panellist must accept that television has always been to a large extent about good-looking people, a vision to which RTE Sport itself is clearly committed with its deployment of extremely handsome men such as Marty Morrissey.

Moreover, the men and women of Sky Sports News are not just good-looking, and groomed, they must come through a daily examination of the most searching kind. There is no tougher crowd to be facing than a sports crowd, and for very good reasons – this stuff is just too important for carelessness or shallowness or inexactitude.

All day, every day, the "entrenched beautiful anchors" know that the antennae of their audience are so highly tuned, they can pick up a false note at a distance of a thousand miles, indeed they can pick up the slightest nuance of a hint of a suggestion of a false note. And it offends them so deeply, they may in time learn to forgive, but they will never forget it.

About 25 years ago a friend of mine heard an Irish presenter on the BBC giving the result of a football match as "5-0", not "five-nil", but "5-0" as in "Hawaii 5-0", and he still hasn't got over it.

You could never imagine any of the entrenched beautiful anchors letting themselves down so horribly, and actually the loudest false note of recent times was uttered by the man Jim White, when he was released into the unknown world of the Connacht championship and came back with some strange sounding names such as "Connawt", in which there is a county called Leitrim which he pronounced correctly, but only with the exaggerated effort of a man who was seeing that word for the first time.


Here's a link for you now – another Northern Irishman who found himself in dispute with a woman in the sporting realm was seen on Sky last week. Rory McIlroy, before he teed it up at Wentworth, spoke to reporters about the breakdown of his relationship with Caroline Wozniaki, even though there was no need whatsoever for him to do so, having issued a statement which was in itself deeply informative.

One line in particular, in which he stated that he wasn't "ready for all that marriage entails" had a resonance which I couldn't quite place for a while, until it struck me that it's the sort of thing that men sometimes say when they're explaining why they couldn't quite bring themselves to enter the priesthood.

Remembering to put out the bins, that sort of thing...

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