Fury and SPOTY; Some Perspective

I’ll start by saying I couldn’t disagree more with the Tyson Fury comments that have drawn so much attention but the vilification of the new heavyweight champ has gone way beyond ridiculous.

Over 85,000 people have signed a petition to get him removed from the BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist – that’s over 84,999 people who are too easily offended and one person with way too much time on their hands, who is also oversensitive.

Scott Cuthbertson, the guy with too much time who began the petition, had this to say.

“He has repeatedly made degrading, insulting and homophobic and sexist remarks.

“He is fully entitled to his views, but this is about the BBC putting Tyson up as a role model to young people.”

Is it about the BBC putting him up as a role model to young people?  I’m not so sure.  When I was a kid I didn’t give a shit who won SPOTY and now they’ve got social networking and Lego Dimensions to contend with I doubt many have got enough time to take any notice of some awards show. Kids who are interested in sport will appreciate sporting achievements, not a black tie dinner where Gary Lineker hands out a tinfoil trophy at the end. It isn’t the X Factor and the kids that are interested well… they’re not turning out to be Tyson Fury I assure you of that.

Without this petition most people wouldn’t have even been aware of this YouTube video – no one would have had a clue who Scott Cuthbertson was either, I googled him and got a magician… Presume that’s not the right dude.  What’s his agenda?

Before I head off on too much of a tangent I don’t really care.  In terms of sporting achievements Fury’s is right up there and to leave him off the list could also be considered prejudiced against the travelling community.  There are cultural differences, whether you’re aware of them or choose to acknowledge them or not, and to expect everyone to fall in line with one version of morality and one way of thinking is arrogant, ignorant and the behaviour of the oppressor.  You can’t just tell people what to think – that’s all a bit 1984, even if you’re right.

Too strong? Maybe, or maybe not.  I doubt gender politics or feminist theory were a huge part of Fury’s curriculum during his formative years, he was a young person once and at 27 there’s still time for spiritual development, for his social conscience to grow, do we just give up on people when they get past a certain age? Rather than attack why not, and here’s a radical idea, enter into a real discussion.  Try and find out more about why the other thinks the way they think, you never know Fury might even be up for that (I have a feeling the petition’s creator definitely would) – if we’ve learnt anything from this video it’s that he loves the camera –  and it sounds like a decent half hour programme for BBC3 to me

As a result of all this hoo-ha I decided I had to check out the offending item myself, otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered, and it isn’t so bad.  This is the comment that has caused the big stir, quelle surprise it’s the worst of the bunch:

“I believe a woman’s best place is in the kitchen and on her back. That’s my personal belief. Making me a good cup of tea, that’s what I believe.”

Yeah, that’s definitely not cool.  But he isn’t preaching it as gospel, it is not a Muhammad Ali ‘No Viet Cong ever called me a…’ moment, and there is an acceptance that he is in a minority and those kinds of views are outdated.  It seems that these days words speak louder than actions and Fury isn’t so bad when you consider what he DOES rather than SAYS.

I watched Sky Sports’ Behind the Ropes doc on him prior to his world title win and there was a small section on his family life there. I have no way of knowing how genuine these things are and my general cynicism usually leads me to the conclusion that the whole thing is horseshit topped with glitter but kids don’t play by those rules.  That’s true by the way – an early indicator of a child’s intelligence is their ability to lie, getting them to fall in line with complex stuff like faking a happy home is mission impossible. On his kids he said something along the lines of “life isn’t a fairytale, we all know that, but when you’re a kid it can be, so that’s what I do for them” and you know what? They seemed pretty happy, as did his wife, who at no point was on her back.

Admittedly, a person’s home life doesn’t necessarily always give an accurate portrait of what they are like as an individual but in this case I think it probably is a fair indication, Fury doesn’t seem that deep. He’s just got a big mouth, anyone who followed the build-up to his win over Wladimir Klitschko will know that. He’s not a monster, just a loudmouth and not the sharpest tool in the box. Again this doesn’t excuse what he’s said but there is another side to him that is easy to ignore as these soundbites make for better headlines, and there have been people on the SPOTY shortlist in the past who have done worse things and we didn’t get all of this nonsense.

Where were the morality police, the PC brigade and the women’s rights activists when Phil Taylor was up for the award in 2010?  The darts king has a conviction for indecent assault but he still came in second to jockey Tony McCoy that year.  Call me crazy but I’d argue assaulting two women in a van in Scotland was infinitely worse and more misogynistic than some ill-advised comments.

But do I think Taylor shouldn’t have been allowed on the shortlist because of that?  Nope, he was found guilty and society says he paid the price.  The BBC’s official line is the award is based on “sporting achievement”, what they have accomplished on the field, or in a hall throwing stuff at a board whatever.  The implication being the word ‘personality’ is not about moral fibre or how good a drinking buddy they’d be but instead is used in place of ‘individual’ or even ‘person’. Perhaps this whole Fury furore boils down to a poor choice of phrasing from the broadcaster in the first place.

I’ll reiterate that I don’t agree with what he said but this whole thing has been massively blown out of proportion.  At one point Fury’s response to the petition was the top story on the BBC’s website (see main pic).  This is at a time when the UK has started a bombing campaign in Syria and 99.9% of the population don’t understand who the enemy actually is, or why the decision to bomb was made in the first place. This a time when a potential psychopath with a terrible comb-over could become the leader of one of the, if not the, world’s greatest superpowers.  This is a time when the COP21 conference is taking place in Paris in talks aimed at coming up with a universal agreement on climate change – yet instead people are reading and talking about some off the cuff comments from some guy who makes his living breaking faces.  If LGBT and gender issues in sport are your particular point of interest why not focus on the fact Russia and Qatar are hosting the next two World Cups? The SPOTY controversy is small potatoes compared to that. We need to prioritise people, and the inner thoughts that rattle around in Tyson Fury’s head and an annual BBC awards show are pretty low on my own list.

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