THE EDITOR, Sir:
My Wednesday co-lumn 'He ain't pretty but he's pretty damn good' was not intended to cause injury to Stephen Francis. It was not intended to offend black people nor be derisive to corpulent people. It was not written with prejudicial intent nor crafted to communicate my personal disdain for hard-featured people.
Those who know me know the stout defence I mount on Francis' behalf whenever he's criticised for the handling of Asafa or for a refusal to work with the media's agenda.
I've heard him described as all kinds of ugly and awful epithets by people who remain stubbornly blind to the quality of his work. The descriptors used in the article and which have riled so many, causing some to send what I can only class as hate mail to me, represent the warped views of verandah and armchair commentators I've heard who value looks and conduct over performance.
I was simply communicating the fact that even if such critics have overpowered me into buying into this looks argument (and they have not), the facts are that Stephen Francis is a pretty damn good coach. A genius, even!
Those who understood
I want to publicly thank St. G. Foster, D. Henry, K. Slowley, M. Headley, S. Bennett, L. Nelson and D.P.W. These are readers who responded on the day the article was published and so weren't influenced by the sirens of the outrage police. Thanks for understanding the points I intended to make and recognising that there was no racism or even snobbery in it.
Very few of those who've exercised their 'curse and carry-on muscle' took the time to comment on the reasons I set down for Stephen Francis to be accorded the respect that his quality as a coach demands. In this way, they support the argument I've posited. That Stephen Francis doesn't get due respect because of issues surrounding looks and behaviour.