Sat | Aug 19, 2017

‘Blushgate’ maybe good after all

Published:Tuesday | January 12, 2016 | 1:00 AM

In the early days of the Chris Gayle "Blushgate" I agreed that his comments were unprofessional and cringe-worthy and supported the fine from his employers.

Chris behaved similarly in the past and simply got away with it.

The response of his employers this time ensures (in my mind) that he will refrain from making similar gaffes in the future.

I really do believe that every human being, unless severely mentally retarded, works out the cost/benefit of his actions prior to committing them. Therefore, Chris WILL NOT make a similar gaffe again. More than a week later, I still have the same sentiments.

However, on reflection, I took a look at the phenomenon known as T20 cricket, the format that has transformed this enthralling game, cricket, which originated in England and which was played mainly by Commonwealth countries until very recently.

This form of the game has attracted sponsors, expanded television coverage, and most important, new fans. It features music, cash incentives for fans, dancing girls in form-fitting outfits (or skimpy outfits), and a liberal, consistent supply of alcohol.

NO PLACE FOR weakness

The game thrives on the raw power of the participants, and 'mamby-pamby' players who don't understand the 'formula' are soon discarded and replaced by those who are prepared to bang the ball around the ground.

Christopher Henry Gayle is by far the world's best T20 player. His services are in demand worldwide. His presence ensures a massive gate for the promoters, and he wins matches and breaks records. Most importantly, he is rich and will

be richer every time he signs another contract.

Media houses cannot wait to interview him, and prime ministers are prompted to ensure that he stays in the game and in the limelight. As a result, when he is not playing cricket, he is photographed and quoted at all the hot spots of the 'glitterati'. Women can't wait to be photographed with him, and he wears garments (T-shirts) that have recently portrayed an attitude to women that is acceptable to some and repugnant to most.

With this background and his previous interview with a female reporter in Antigua being 'pooh-poohed' by the media and society at large, can we really blame Chris?

Isn't Christopher Henry Gayle rewarded (handsomely) for portraying the persona that revealed itself in a worldwide television interview?

RAW POWER

The game of T20 encourages free-flowing alcohol, skimpily dressed women, and raw power on show. The players who hit the ball all over (and out of) the ground are hired to promote this triumvirate. This is, whether we like it or not, where the money is.

"Blushgate' has now escalated into calls for a lifetime ban from cricket for Gayle. That won't happen. However, I do think that this is the time for us as a people to take a long, hard look at T20 cricket and how it is promoted to see if this form of the game, the saviour of the game of cricket, can continue its successful path without the free flow of alcohol and the portrayal of women as sex objects.

That revolutionary move would minimise the possibility of similar occurrences, where women at the game are treated with the respect they deserve.

The United States of America has pioneered and been very successful at promoting this triumvirate but now finds itself having to deal with the very backlash that we are seeing in cricket, where some of the participants - rich, handsome, and strong - are forced or encouraged to treat women with the respect that they deserve.

'Blushgate' may be the start of something good.