Sorry To Burst Your Outrage Bubble But Eddie McGuire Meant No Harm
Eddie McGuire once hosted a TV show called 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire'. It probably should have been called 'Who Wants To Be A Silly Man On Air'.
Because let's be straight here, Eddie has been a silly man on air many times. And silly is putting it mildly.
So how to assess Eddie after he mocked the coin toss by a much-esteemed member of the community in Cynthia Banham, who lost her legs in a plane crash?
The first and seemingly most popular view today is that he should be banned from ever brandishing a microphone in commentary -- or perhaps anywhere -- ever again.
The second view is that on this occasion, no harm was intended. After listening to Eddie's mea culpa on Triple M this morning, it's hard not to accept his apology.
Here's a sample of what Eddie said today on Triple M.
Firstly, he had no idea Cynthia Banham was doing the toss. In fact he had no idea who was doing the toss -- able-bodied or otherwise.
"I didn't see any of the lead-up to the toss, and I had no information on the toss. I didn't know who was doing the toss."
So why even mention the coin toss? As Eddie explained, it's been a bit of a thing of his this year in the spirit of pre-game banter -- or as he memorably put it, as a "tangent of jocularity".
"I wasn't looking at the monitor and out of the corner of my eye, I saw the coin flick out, and I went off on a tangent of jocularity. It was mucking around, it wasn't having a go at coin tossers. It's a bit of a thing I'd been mucking around with for a little while, about the coin toss."
Now, you might say Eddie is a media professional. How could he not have known who the tosser was, or at least that she was disabled?
As he explained, that's because he wasn't actually at the ground, but was covering the 7 feed from the Fox Sports studios.
"I had no visibility whatsoever as to what was going on in Sydney. In the studio we get the Channel 7 feed, and what happens is when it cuts to one of the Seven commentators, it cuts back to us in the studio, and you talk around it.
So most of them time you're actually talking to your three three colleagues or to the camera itself, and then you might take a glance down at the monitor.
So I was in a parallel universe, I was looking at one thing and the pictures were somewhere else... I would never have made light of a person with a disability."
There are of course many who would argue that Eddie permanently inhabits a "parallel universe" -- and not just when he's calling a game for one network off another's feed.
But even if you think he inhabits a parallel moral universe, it's a stretch to argue he deliberately intended to mock Cynthia Banham.
In a further sign that he understood the distress his comments had caused, on Triple M this morning Eddie reiterated the full, unconditional apology which he gave to the Sydney Swans at halftime on Friday night after learning what he'd done about halfway through the first quarter.
"I am devastated to have spoiled in any way the special night afforded Cynthia Banham and her family.
Inadvertently the impact of my words were profound and I achieved the exact opposite of my intention, and I'd like once again to offer my sincere apologies to Cynthia, [her husband] Michael, their friends and family, and the Sydney Swans and AFL family.
It was completely just an unfortunate sequence of events, but I owned them.
There was no problem with producers or anyone in the studio or co-hosts, this was solely me. Everything here was my issue."
As mentioned, there will be many who don't give a toss what Eddie says today. They'll argue he should have read the pre-game notes which specify minutiae like who's going to toss the coin. They'll say that he's crossed the line of decency too many times before.
They've got a fair point. Eddie's two major previous gaffes -- the King Kong slur against Adam Goodes and the Caroline Wilson drowning comments -- were awful.
Those were strike one and two. But this is not strike three. This was a case of bad timing, not bad taste.
As to whether Eddie should reduce his future media commitments so he's less prone to saying insensitive things, that's a matter for the man himself and his bosses.
But if you were to toss a coin and say "heads he keeps going, tails he scales back", you'd call tails every time.