Sports commentary: Healthy banter or casual sexism?

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“Most… batters don’t seem to like their bats. They either like another person’s bat… Bats are like a neighbour’s wife, they always feel better”- Dinesh Karthik while commentating In 2nd ODI between England and Sri Lanka.

“Inhone lockdown me to bas Anushka ki gendon ki practice ki hain”- Sunil Gavaskar while commenting on Virat Kohli’s performance in an IPL match.

These are just two examples of several remarks we often see in sports commentary which can be construed as sexist.

“There is a lot of banter in sports” is the first response you will hear from a lot of people, “it wasn’t mean spirited”, is another. My question here is, whether just banter or light spirited, is it fair or is this casual sexism?

In the name of banter and fun and jokes, women have been subjected to a lot of jokes and while most of the time women simply ignore these, it’s time to draw a line.

Why specifically cricket?

Cricket is considered a religion in this country, cricketers’ treated like Gods. No other sport in the country gets as much attention as cricket.

Commentary during cricket matches is a platform with a very wide reach. Commentators need to be mindful of what they are saying. They are the voice of the match and should be more careful with their words, especially while bringing women and the players’ personal life into the comments.

Newlands ball-tampering scandal

In March 2018, during the Newlands ball-tampering scandal, Candice Warner (David Warner’s spouse) blamed herself for the fiasco, for letting herself be disturbed by sexually charged abuse from the South African spectators, which in turn affected David Warner and influenced him to react in ways that resulted in ball-tampering.

Warner’s wife was subjected to a lot of harassment from fans but the Australian Cricket Board or their commentators never brought his personal life in question.

BCCI’s intolerance policy: Lopsided?

BCCI’s stance against both Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul by fining them INR 20 lakhs after their sexist remarks on the show “Koffee with Karan” became a topic of social media scrutiny, is a clear indicator of BCCI’s intolerance policy against such conduct.

Athletes in India should be accorded similar respect, personal lives should be kept away from the game. Internet trolls have enough to say without needing any help from Commentators.

Since the commentators are also representing the BCCI, should they not be held responsible for their remarks as well?

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