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Gayle—a real cricket ‘player’

Published: 
Friday, January 8, 2016
Dirt Under the Nails

I really wanted to start off the New Year with an article on a topic filled with positivity and promise, but alas! I cannot resist this one. It just begs for commentary. 

Once again, Facebook has not failed to provide me with such a topic. Flipping through the hundreds of feeds proclaiming resolutions, gratuitous commentaries and profound statements that will all be forgotten by next week, there it was…“Backlash after batsman Chris Gayle asks presenter out during live interview.” West Indian cricket never disappoints when it comes to bacchanal and self-aggrandising cricketers. So I clicked the link.

There was Chris Gayle, being interviewed by female TV presenter, Mel McLaughlin, after being dismissed for a meagre 41 in the Australian Big Bash League. At the start of the interview on national television, Gayle asked McLaughlin out for a drink after the game. Probably noting McLaughlin’s obvious lack of eye contact and expression that seemed to read, “Fella, you for real?” Gayle awkwardly laughed off the comment and said: “Don’t blush, baby,” to which McLaughlin responded: “I’m not blushing.” She tactfully and quickly redirected the conversation to the game. 

I have many issues with this situation (besides Gayle’s vacuous interview skills), and they all revolve around what a huge disappointment Chris Gayle has been as a role model and a leader in these troubled times for West Indian cricket. 

The first issue is what some people call “sexual harassment.” I won’t go as far as calling it sexual harassment. I will leave that to the staunch feminists out there. There is nothing wrong with a man telling a girl that he would like to go out for a drink with her.

My issue is with how he did it: on national television, in a professional situation where he made McLaughlin obviously uncomfortable and put her in a very awkward position…pretty low class. There was also a condescending tone to his “don’t blush baby” comment that was bordering on derogatory and gave an insight into how he views women. 

And quite frankly, if she did turn a shade of pink, I can hazard a guess that it was more out of embarrassment than flattery. If Gayle thought she was blushing, his ego needs a shocking dose of reality that not all women want him.

I decided to look for more coverage of this incident and then came across the press articles that announced Gayle’s unveiling of his own private strip club at his home via Instagram! Pictures of the club, complete with a pole and a “Hanky Panky bed” with a mirror above are highlighted, together with pictures of him in a pool surrounded by some women, and a quote saying: “From the pool to the strip club…if you ain’t got a strip club at home, you ain’t a true cricket—Player.” 

Hmmm, and I thought real cricket players had a batting pitch at home. But I guess it depends on what kind of “player” you are. I am sure Gayle’s public relations manager is kept very busy, as of course Gayle ended up apologising on television for his sexist behaviour during the McLaughlin interview.

These incidents highlight my second issue. Call me old school, but I think that a professional athlete should be a good example to younger people. 

Being a role model comes with the territory and is, by default, a part of the job description. Glorification of vice, money, gold and party is the wrong message for youth who are already bombarded with narcissism, materialism and lack of discipline, qualities for which Gayle is the posterboy. 
Today, “hard work” is two four letter words, and humility and gentleman’s class are Victorian concepts. 

Gayle certainly “works hard” at partying and enjoying women. We can all see that. What I don’t see is how hard he works at cricket, or on other noble things. Yet Gayle has been called “the coolest man in sport” according to an article in the Telegraph. Back in the days of Ambrose and Richardson, one would never hear of a cricketer being labelled as “the coolest man in sport.” 

But those were the days when cricket was a gentleman’s sport and the West Indies were on top of the rankings. Times change.

I have a bit of advice for all the Gayle wannabes. The Chris Gayle-type brand is a short-lived one. At 36, his career is in its twilight. You see, gold, money, party, sex and fast cars will not matter when you’re old and wrinkled, impaired or in pain, or are alone and have regrets. 

Best begin “hard work” on building a personal brand of respect, humility and honour, so that you can be remembered for being more than a womaniser and having a sleazy strip club. At least that is my old school opinion.

Carla Rauseo, DPT, CSCS, ATRIC is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and a Certified Aquatic Therapy Rehabilitation Instructor at Total Rehabilitation Centre in San Juan. http://www.totalrehabtt.com

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