Earlier this month West Indian batsman Chris Gayle found himself in the middle of controversy when during a mid-match interview he asked Australian sideline reporter Mel McLaughlin out for a drink and then told her “Don’t blush baby” when the reporter seemed uncomfortable over his on-air overtures.
He came in for much criticism and sparked global debate about sexism in sport. He was fined and his team the Renegades was eliminated from the Big Bash competition. The controversy then died down only for the powerfully built Jamaican to stir them again when comments he made on his Instagram page. In it Gayle thanked those who supported him and told the others, ‘haters’ to kiss his black r&%*s.’
His backers cheered at the comments but it left Gayle in a bad light.
Off the bat, Gayle who recently signed to play for Somerset in the T20 Bash in the UK, was only able to do so after the club consulted with team captain Chris Rogers, one of those persons who Gayle suggested kiss his backside for calling him out on his inappropriate comments to the Australian reporter.
That the club found it necessary to consult the Australian before deciding to sign Gayle demonstrates the seriousness of the situation Gayle now finds himself in. If Rogers had said he would not be comfortable playing with Gayle, the Jamaican who has made a good living playing in the T20 leagues across the world may have lost a significant amount of money because he could have missed out on an opportunity to earn as his illustrious career continues to wind down.
The Instagram rant from Gayle was ill-advised and revealed that he was not really apologetic for his “joke” that was blown out of proportion.
I agree that it was blown out of proportion and I would be stupid to deny that there is a significant level of double standard at play especially when considering that McLaughlin herself has been guilty of similar on-air offences, but one wrong does not make the other wrong right. And whether we like it or not Gayle was wrong.
And that rant on social media did not represent him getting the last word in. What it really was, was the Jamaican digging a deeper hole for himself. Gayle might never play in Australia’s Big Bash ever again because of those comments. He could also lose opportunities to play in other leagues as well. We hope that he doesn’t continue to suffer from those ill-advised comments but Gayle should be mature enough now to know that despite his star power, the people who pay him still hold the handle even as he clings strongly onto the blade.
It all comes down to respect. Gayle needs to understand that respect works both ways. People show him respect for what he does for the sport. He should also show similar respect for those who employ him and who pay good money to see him perform. He should also accept that just like he wants people to respect his position on this particular issue, he should respect those who disagree with him without being rude and crude about it.
In Jamaican parlance, it’s not a good look. And while there are those who feel that as long as Gayle is rich he doesn’t need to concern himself about the opinion of mere mortals, he need to appreciate that having all the money in the world does not give one the right to do and say what he pleases. Money eventually goes away but respect can last an eternity.
He should think about how he wants people to remember him, because how they remember him is what will define his legacy as a cricketer but more importantly, as a man.