Is It Time For Eddie McGuire To Step Away From The Microphone?
Did anyone else watch Eddie McGuire’s apology for the comments he made prior to the Swans Crows game and get this terrible feeling of déjà vu?
Reading off of a piece of paper and railroading the conversation in to make it seem like he’s getting on the front foot, his words had all the failings of the classic non-apology-apology.
At halftime in the game, he said:
"I’m sorry if what I said was communicated the wrong way.”
"(It) had nothing to do with Cynthia Banham who was the coin tosser tonight at the SCG, who has a disability.”
Immediately he shifts the onus, because we are the ones who have misinterpreted what he said. It’s not Eddie's fault, it’s our fault because we took it the wrong way.
READ MORE: Eddie McGuire Vs Facebook
That’s a nice line to throw around, Eddie, it really is. But you said what you said in direct relation to Cynthia Banham, so don’t say it has “nothing” to do with her. You just didn’t think about how your words might affect someone else, and now you’re having to deal with the consequences.
For those who missed it: Cynthia Banham, a highly regarded journalist, author, solicitor and teacher who had both her legs amputated in 2007 following a plane crash that killed 21 others, was given the responsibility of flipping the coin before the game.
Typing out her credentials, I can’t help but think that maybe Ms Banham is just a bit overqualified to flip a coin before a football game… but she is also the Swans’ number one ticket holder this year, so this opportunity would’ve been one she’s looked forward to with great excitement for a while.
With the camera on her, as she performed the toss, Eddie provided the following comments:
"I think we should introduce a $5000 fine to anybody who’s tossing the coin and can't do it properly.”
"Every week we have someone dropping it on their foot. Come on, toss it up properly, for goodness sake.”
"Practise in the week, you know you're going to do it."
"It can't be that hard, can it, guys?"
I don’t know, maybe Eddie’s still holding a bit of a grudge after the Pies lost the coin toss before the Grand Final last year and his blood boils every time he sees a coin fly in the air?
I wish this coin-angst was the case, but sadly it isn’t.
I say this because this isn’t Eddie's first time blurting out complete ignorance to a large audience, then following it up with an apology that reduces the severity of what he’s done.
READ MORE: Conan O'Brien Tries Out For The Sydney Swans
In 2016, he said he’d pay $50,000 to see Caroline Wilson stay under a pool of iced water and charge more for "everyone to stand around the outside and bomb her". He defended himself following backlash, claiming:
"That was clearly banter, but on White Ribbon weekend we have to be vigilant about stamping out domestic violence."
Eddie went on to say he "didn't see it as being in any way shape or form sexist.”
Further back we see a similar series of events, this time involving Australian of the Year, and one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met, Adam Goodes.
McGuire was forced to give another apology after suggesting the former Swans star should be used to promote the musical 'King Kong', just several days after Goodes had been racially vilified at the MCG.
“I made a blue this morning. My excuse? I was a bit zoned out," McGuire said at the time.
“[But] people don't resign because they make a slip of the tongue. It's as simple as that."
Another excuse. Another reduction. Another day in the office.
Thing is, if it happens a bit too often, I really don’t think we can say it’s a slip of the tongue, or banter, or a joke that was taken the wrong way.
When do we stop excusing what’s said and when do we say you’ve got some work to do on not blurting out inconsiderate comments? Heck, when do we say that you should step away from the microphone because you’ve lost your touch?
In the wake of this latest incident, Eddie has done just that and stepped aside from commentating, but I'm not going to call this a noble gesture -- because I believe it’s one of the things he should be doing.
If, after some time, Eddie comes back, I’d hope he puts more effort into his commentary.
If you’re commentating a game of football, you should be aware of the stories involved in the game. During the week you do your research, you cover all the angles.
Your job is to provide insights that people at home might not know. That’s why you get paid for when you commentate.
If you really cared about your job, you’d extend that beyond the football field. If someone was going to come up on your screen, you should know who they are and why they are there. That is your role as a commentator. It is your job to translate this game and the events surrounding it to your audience.
Does that seem too much to ask if you return to the commentary box? If so, then don’t worry, you can always practise in the week, when you know you're going to do it. It can't be that hard can it, Eddie?