Sport Soccer

Thursday 27 April 2017

Massey's raised flag unlikely to signal end of the TV egotist

Sean Diffley

That Katie Taylor is conferred with the Freedom of Wicklow is, of course, appropriate. She is a decent, courteous, attractive personality, perhaps the most fascinating of all our leading sports champions and obviously the best prospect for a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

But one strange remark knocked me back on my heels the other day when, in response to the appalling Andy Gray formerly of Sky Sports, Katie intimated that sexism also rears its ugliness in her boxing region.

Good heavens. Who'd dare? Sexism in sport exists, but in boxing?

Is Katie misunderstanding a degree of doubt, and sometimes total antipathy, towards women's boxing? This is something that certainly exists, but is a gender thing, nothing to do with sexism. Some of us find it difficult to come to terms with young girls pummelling each other's pretty faces.

Are we wrong? Eccentric? Katie is a scientific purveyor of what A J Liebling called 'The Sweet Science', and disdains the rough house. But I reckon she still hurts.

As for Andy Gray and his sexism, he has always been an arrogant eejit, but certain TV channels encourage such pundits in the belief that they attract more viewers and, more often than not, punters who hate them.

Take Brian Moore, the former England rugby hooker who upsets so many on BBC TV.

It's a feature of sports television nowadays.We're attracted by the hideous, like rabbits caught in the glare of the headlights.

Remember 'Jaws' and the 'Silence of the Lambs,' the repulsive Robert Shaw and Anthony Hopkins and the endless cinema queues around the block. And next door there's Julie Andrews and 'The Sound of Music,' con amore, but nobody cares.

Certainly some channels provide sound professionalism. RTE's combination, with John Giles, Richard Sadlier and Ray Houghton, is far ahead of the rest, including the soporific Gary Lineker on BBC.

I wish that I could put RTE's rugby punditry on the same level as their corresponding RTE soccer team but, unfortunately, I can't.

Sky Sports' rugby analysts, in vivid contrast to its Grayish soccer, is excellent, with Michael Lynagh, Paul Wallace and Will Greenwood knowledgeable, unbiassed and entertaining.

Perhaps the most annoying programme of all is the BBC production of track and field athletics which, after all these years, still hasn't come to terms with presenting viewable interludes in the times between events.

Athletics is not a continuous programme of action but, really, the BBC should come up with some other presentation than the same old interviews with the British boy or girl who has just finished sixth in that race.

BBC, how do you measure boredom?

Anyway, Sian Massey did a bit more for all our peace of mind than just raising her flag to put into effect the departure from our screens of Gray and his colleague Richard Keys.

She will ensure a serious bit of head-scratching at Sky Sports soccer as to whether having egotistical, arrogant, self-centred, self-obsessed, self-admiring types as pundits is the right road to travel.

And, by the way, don't watch this space.

Irish Independent

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