By Zaheer E. Clarke
Published January 18, 2016
Let this be the last article to discuss the Chris Gayle firestorm that erupted two weeks ago. I’m tired of hearing about it. You are tired of reading about. So, let’s put a cap on it.
The Chris Gayle inappropriate incident is what it is: inappropriate. Personally, I don’t condone such behaviour either from a male or a female on the job. Privately, off the job, that’s another matter.
Gayle by his mere actions has awakened several underbellies of the human psyche which can only be described as the good, the sad and the despicable. Now Chris Gayle was wrong. Let me say it again. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! However, we must gauge if our reaction to his solecism is tempered and appropriate lest we too act inappropriately with our chastisement. Then, we’ll have two wrongs and we are aware what those do.
Recently, highly respected commentator and former Australian Test cricketer, Ian Chappell – one of my favourite cricket storytellers of all time – uttered a few words to the Australian press on the matter that had my eyebrows raised and my chin perched on my hand in deep thought.
‘Chappeli’ remarked, “I wouldn’t have a problem if Cricket Australia said to the clubs, ‘he’s never to be contracted again in this country’, and I also wouldn’t have a problem if Cricket Australia said to the ICC, ‘what we’re doing should be worldwide’. How are you going to stop it otherwise?”
Particular individuals reading this, at first, will contemplate that Chappell is overreaching. Does the proposed punishment fit the crime, or is Gayle being used as an example? Is race playing a role, subconsciously, in Chappell’s decision? Whether we believe it, humans exhibit certain prejudices inadvertently. Are Chappell and other Australians who are stringently upset at Gayle’s actions, guilty of this? Countless will point to Australia’s despicable past and recent history of racism as the rootage for this defiance and if it were a white on white or black on black incident, it would not have gotten the same mileage in the media. Several have drawn for the Sharapova incident with a male Australia reporter as evidence along with several other incidents.
However, those opposed to sexism will rubbish the racism claim and purport that all discriminatory behaviour towards members of the opposite sex is forbidden. But to be honest, can the world be without sexism on some level? Our public bathrooms tell a different story.
In December 2003, white pro football Hall of Famer, Joe Namath, commonly called Broadway Joe, told white ESPN reporter Suzy Kolber during a New York Jets versus New England Patriots game in a sideline interview on national TV, “I wanna kiss you. I couldn’t care less about the team struggling.”
Broadway Joe received widespread condemnation for his actions and he later apologized. For all who glimpsed the infamous incident, it was crystal clear that Joe was drunk.
Kolber remarked years later, “It was hilarious, but it was also sad and scary and, in the end, maybe a good thing. That public humiliation was what it took for Namath, who said he had been drinking all day, to admit he had an alcohol problem.”
What is Gayle’s problem? Will Gayle admit to it? And can he be helped?
Often times in a court of law when sentencing is to occur, character witnesses are brought before the judge to help sway his or her decision when it comes to the length of the sentence if any at all. Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland and the Big Bash League (BBL) have handed down a US$7000 (AU$10,000) fine for Gayle’s inappropriate remarks on air. Reports have surfaced that Cricket Australia might go even further and ban Gayle from future BBL seasons. Chappell agrees with this and wants to go even further: WORLDWIDE BAN. It seems Chappell has held the sentencing hearing and has drawn his own conclusions that Gayle is “past help probably now” based on his alleged history of inappropriate acts.
Chappell further uttered, “If it was a one-off thing, yeah, slap him with a $10,000 fine and say ‘mate, don’t do it again’, but every woman I spoke to [about Gayle] who’s working at the cricket, you got the same answer from. They were quite adamant about it.”
Does Gayle have a history of these inappropriate remarks against the opposite sex in the workplace? Several female journalists, worldwide, have crawled out of the closets shouting similar allegations against Gayle. Gayle loyalists and those who conclude this is overblown has asked, “Why now?” and have dismissed many as falsehoods or opportunistic.
If we are to be honest, we in the Caribbean have also dropped the ball and allowed inappropriate actions like of Gayle’s doing to be commonplace in the workplace. So much so that they are deemed the norm. Street talk and work talk must be different. And what is a tiny deal in Jamaica or the Caribbean might be a gigantic deal elsewhere.
Eighteen months ago, in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) Twenty20 tournament, a female reporter asked Chris Gayle to share his thoughts on the pitch at the Sir Vivian Richards stadium for the upcoming T20 game and the weather conditions. Gayle’s reply to the female reporter drew widespread disdain from various women groups. Gayle stated, “Well I haven’t touched yours yet, so I don’t know how it feels. See I like your smile; that’s nice. That’s really good.”
It was reported that an individual at the head table whispered to Gayle “stick to cricket” and “press conference, please” at that point.
To his own detriment looking back at it now, the CPL organisers downplaying of the incident has caused Gayle to put his foot in his mouth again, only this time on the international level. If they had nipped it immediately, we might not have had this recurrence and embarrassment to the country and region.
Chris Gayle has painted a lifestyle for all to behold, which in some eyes may be a little raunchy. For Christians, it might be even sacrilegious. We are not saying, “He without sin among you should cast the first stone at Gayle”. We are saying to Gayle, you blundered on this interview, and you are guiltiest of stupidity and poor timing, but for the future we simply ask, stick to cricket, please, and on the job, flirt no more. When it comes to the worldwide ban, the answer is simply, hell no.
Until next time…
© Zaheer Clarke
From the “Lies & Statistics” column in the Western Mirror (Published January 18, 2016)