BBC Gets Heat After Commentator Mark Lawrenson Makes Sexist Comment that No One Finds Funny
While every American was focusing all their energies on the awesomeness that is Tim Howard after the United States vs. Belgium game Tuesday, British viewers watching the World Cup were getting increasingly pissed off by the BBC. A social media storm erupted and over a hundred complaints were filed after BBC commentator Mark Lawrenson made a sexist remark during the Argentina versus Switzerland game.
In case you missed it, or were too busy concentrating on Team USA (and subsequently drowning your sorrows), Argentina squared off with the World Cup's underdog, Switzerland, on Tuesday. In the first half, the game was tied at a tense 0-0, when Swiss striker Josip Drmić got the ball — and a one-on-one with Argentinian goalkeeper Sergio Romero. The pressure was high, and the result was epically disappointing: Drmić gaffed the shot, and prompted BBC's Lawrenson to comment that the striker "should have put a skirt on." Because, you know, women are suckier and generally weaker and shouldn't we all laugh.
Viewers took to Twitter immediately to call Lawrenson out on his #everydaysexism, and express their merited outrage with the network — since the comment was made, the BBC has received 172 formal complaints about the incident. A spokesperson for Lawrenson (though not Lawrenson himself) has apologized for the comment, saying 'the remark was inappropriate and we apologise for any offence caused.' But the ruckus isn't dying out — for one thing, this isn't the first time a BBC commentator has been openly sexist on air.
Back in July last year, the BBC's John Inverdale made some even worse comments on Radio Five Live when Marion Bartoli won Wimbledon 2013. The remark?
I wonder if her dad did say to her when she was 12, 13, 14, 'Listen, you’re never going to be a looker'.You’re never going to be somebody like a Sharapova, you’re never going to be somebody with long legs, so you have to compensate for that.'
Yah, ew. At the time, the BBC got more than 700 complaints regarding the incident, and Inverdale was promptly axed from hosting BBC Radio Five Live's Wimbledon coverage. While both Inverdale's and Lawrenson's comments are somewhat depressing — especially in a world where women's sports continue to be less popular than their male counterparts, where female athletes are oversexualized and judged largely on looks, particularly when it comes to corporate sponsorship — maybe we can take solace in the fact that viewers are saying that this isn't ok. (That being said, another BBC commentator got twice that as many complaints as Lawrenson — for being too boring.)
Of course, here in the U.S., we're not unfamiliar with commentators making cringe-worthy, nauseatingly sexist comments — I'm looking at you, George Will.