Saturday 3 December 2016

The BBC's craven apology for Peter Alliss 'sexism' was an affront - and utterly worthless

James Corrigan

Published 22/07/2015 | 14:25

Peter Alliss was at the centre of another row over 'sexist' comments at The Open - but was the outrage justified? Photo: 2013 Getty Images
Peter Alliss was at the centre of another row over 'sexist' comments at The Open - but was the outrage justified? Photo: 2013 Getty Images

The whisper is that Peter Alliss quite fancies telling the BBC to shove it up straight up their plus fours by ripping up a contract which only has three tournaments left anyway and so allow the corporation’s golf coverage to fade away without his famous tones sounding a veritable “Last Post”.

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You could hardly blame the old boy if he did.

An 84-year-old who understandably does not feel the obligation to say sorry to anyone, he must be looking at the BBC’s apology on his behalf as an affront.

And so it is. Who do these Siobhans and Simons think they are perched grandly in their ethical communication departments declaring contrition on the behalf of grown-ups?

 If Alliss wanted to apologise for daring to quip that Zach Johnson’s wife was eyeing up a new kitchen as he sealed his Open success then let him. It’s not Siobhan’s and Simon’s job to do so. Actually it is their job to do so and that is such a sad indictment of these PR times. We, the licence-fee payers, are shelling out for the worthless apology, when the BBC could be spending the money on something worthwhile. Such as live sport.

Whether you were horrified by Alliss’s commentary is not really the point, (although i will say that it is everyone’s right be offended and the unoffended should not tell them otherwise).

Personally, I greeted his latest dinosauric statement with a roll of the eyes and a sigh that there would be those screaming for Alliss to be taken off our screens without knowing that he is, in fact, being taken off our screens.

There is one last Open on the BBC - and two Women’s British Opens - and then it’s over to Sky Sports, a move which some have insisted on viewing as the R&A setting up HQ in the Death Star. While praying the satellite channel also buys up the talents of Andrew Cotter and Ken Brown, there is really no need for all this hysterical wailing.

It can, instead, be seen as a part of a fresh start, as part of golf's modernisation, as part of the game’s image overhaul.

The latter is much needed, because as David Joy, the chief executive of England Golf says: “The game is changing, but the media and public perception of golf is not changing at the same rate.”

They should go hand in hand, but one only needs to analyse the ridiculous gender anomaly in Britain’s golf clubs to recognise there is female scepticism to the game in the UK and particularly young female scepticism.

Women only make up 14 per cent of the membership of golf clubs, with a fall of 27 per cent since 2004. In Germany and Austria, women make up 35 per cent. The average age of the female member in England is 50.The average age in Sweden is 26. Holland, which only has 203 courses, has 30,000 more female golfers than England, which has more than 1,800 courses.

 This is clearly cultural as much as anything and with his “Raise Your Game” strategy, Joy has targeted young females as obvious targets and next week sees the launch of #ThisGirlGolfs, a video funded by England Golf, the Scottish Golf Union and National Club Golfer magazine, “to raise awareness of women's golf, deconstruct negative stereotypes”.

In this regard, however cliched, the image of the crusty gentlemen of the dusty British golf club really does not help. And no, in this regard, Alliss also does not help

But then, even if he resists the urge to resign, we do not have much Alliss left. Next week he is at the Women’s British Open and as the owner of Turnberry, Donald Trump might be there, too.

What fun we could have with that enlightened double act. Except if you’re a Mexican female, perhaps.

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