Gordon Robinson: Why I thank God for Chris Gayle
Chris Gayle is a prime example of what I call 'the Totalisator (Tote) Rule'.
In his recent public interaction with Australian sports reporter, Melanie McLaughlin, Chris' behaviour was crass, misogynistic, entitled and stupid, which is an incredible Superfecta that must have taken some amount of skill to land. He said her eyes were lovely; that he'd want-ED to 'interview' her for some time; and that they should have a drink together after the game. As the icing on a cake baked to a recipe from Hell, he attempted to soothe as follows: "Don't blush, baby." Yuck.
On the positive side:
-There was no hint of physical contact (unlike when, in 2012, Aussie striker Tim Cahill stole a public kiss as Mel was about to conduct his post-match interview); and
- Mel, after a brief, embarrassed pause, covered with, "I'm not blushing" (she was), pressed on professionally and the interview ended without any appearance of real upset.
In the male-dominated commentary box, the exchange was greeted with howls of chauvinistic laughter until one commentator remembered his political correctness lessons and said that, "on reflection", the remarks were inappropriate. Ya think?
So, it's really a Hi-Five (not a Superfecta), as Chris' behaviour was also at least inappropriate. In fact, so far was it from appropriateness that it could fairly have been said to have landed in another county. But, is Chris an evil villain or just another example of the real world of modern professional male sport? Is his crass conduct in the minority or even limited to men? Is sport different from the rest of the world's endeavours or can the likes of Mel expect wolf-whistle behaviour (stereotypically attributed to construction workers as pretty girls walk by) wherever she goes, including when interacting with sportsmen?
Women's Tennis Association President Martina Navratilova proposed to her girlfriend, June Lemmigova (leave it alone, please!), on the big screen during the 2014 US Open. It was a surprise. How did Martina, regardless of prior contact, know that this would be OK with June? I suppose the answer is simply that June was free to reply, "Lemme go, Va" (OK, OK, I just couldn't resist) and move on.
Gayle ISN'T THE WORST
Navratilova has referred to Serena Williams (who I've publicly asserted is the sexiest human being alive) as having "the curves of a woman". How sexist is that? Serena, however, had the option of accepting it as a compliment and moving on.
After her surprise fourth-round loss in last year's Australian Open, Maria Sharapova, surly to begin with, became all doe-eyed in less than two minutes of an interview when Aussie reporter Lachlan Wills intervened.
Wills: How long does it take you to get over the disappointment?
Maria: You have so much good self-esteem when you speak. It's very nice (smiling flirtatiously/avoiding eye contact).
Wills: You too.
Maria: (eyes glazing over) What was the question again? I was just admiring your form.
In the male-dominated commentary box, every single analyst swooned with jealousy and not one suggested any "inappropriate" behaviour on Maria's part. Her remarks didn't attract any sanction.
For years, female sports journalists fought fearlessly and righteously to be allowed the same access as male reporters to sports locker-rooms; post-game interviews, etc. Sometimes, I wonder if they knew for what they were asking, because, in my dictionary, 'access' is not 'influence'. Male sporting locker-rooms come with a certain raw ambiance and male sportsmen all over the world engage in very raw behaviour. Ought the locker-rooms to change because females have forced their way in? Ought undereducated, crass, entitled males, unexpectedly and unprepared, thrust into a world of individual wealth and fame, suddenly learn political correctness? If so, how? Who should teach them? Mel?
Mel herself has publicly stated she accepts Chris' apology and only wants to move on. She knows the world in which she wants to work and knows that Chris Gayle isn't the worst (or even in the top 10) she has had to face. Amazingly, his obedience (however unsophisticated and crass) to the biblical entreaty to go ye 'fourth' and multiply (which most Jamaican men translate as go ye out and 'look' at least four women) has been rewarded with a fine of US$7,000.
LOSERS CREATE WINNERS
Seriously? Personally, I'm eternally grateful to Chris Gayle and the teeming thousands of crass male sportsmen worldwide. Why? They're only proving the Totalisator Rule. In every tote, 80 per cent of ticket holders are losers. It's their money that pays winners. In life, as in the tote, it's losers who create winners. Neither can exist alone.
If people like Chris Gayle (hot, fit, athletic, handsome AND wealthy) had courting skills as well, what earthly chance would people like me have to attract any woman, much less the perfect one I found (when she was young and foolish) to be such a fantastic lifetime companion?
Obviously, Chris was never taught the type of courting skills imparted by my mother to me and by hundreds of thousands of Jamaican mothers and grandmothers to their youthfully exuberant charges in the 1950s to mid-1980s. I was taught the overriding principle that ladies always came first. That principle meant I had to learn to open doors, pull out chairs, and to dance many styles, including the waltz, foxtrot, charleston and cha-cha-cha.
I was taught never to say ANYTHING to a lady, publicly or privately, that might make her blush. Girls were taught to expect these things from boys and, if necessary, to wait for it quietly. The Old Ball and Chain has ruthlessly brainwashed her three sons similarly (except for the dancing - just not her thing).
But Old BC is an anachronism. Today, boys are taught by dancehall artistes to get to the point. Girls are taught to go for the guy they like without obfuscation of any kind. Old-fashioned games of courtship like walks, talks, 'dates' (involving only non-alcoholic drinks), curfews and parents doubling as private investigators are obsolete. Educated women far outnumber educated men, so the women are taught to make the first, second and third moves.
Chris Gayle grew up in this world, not in mine. Chris' world is the world of the modern NBA star where gifts of diamond rings solve any marital infidelity problems and autobiographies are written boasting about sportsmen's sexual conquests. I have no doubt Chris' courtship style has worked for him on many, many occasions, which is why he felt so comfortable
trying it out on Mel.
So, for behaving as he was cultured; for behaving in a way that brought nothing but hilarity (initially) to onlooking commentators; for behaving in a way that most young male viewers would have behaved if only they had his fame and wealth, Chris Gayle has been fined US$7,000. Martina Navratilova wasn't even reprimanded. Sharapova didn't even face public odium. Who are the sexists here?
The correct sanction for Chris' behaviour is a market sanction. I assure you he won't get a date with Mel or any self-respecting lady who saw the interview. This ensures more in the Tote to be paid out to the likes of you, me and our sons.
Peace and love.
- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to email@example.com.