This is inspired by two rather unseemly events from the laugh-a-minute world of pro sports – one that didn’t happen and one that most certainly did.
Let’s start with the morally, legally safer ground of the defamation trial surrounding Chris Gayle’s penis.
The fun loving West Indies cricketer won a defamation claim against Fairfax in Australia after one of the company’s newspapers published a story carrying claims from a team physio that Gayle had exposed his penis to her in a changing room.
The court ruled that Gayle did no such thing, and that the newspaper acted with malice in publishing the claim.
As usual with these things, the devil is in the detail.
“I saw the top half of his penis, apologies, and I therefore shielded my view and left the change room,” team masseuse Leanne Russell told the court.
This statement raises two obvious questions, which likely puzzled the court and possibly undermined her claim.
1. Which is the top half of a penis? The answer would appear top depend on, er, circumstances (which aren’t alluded to in reports of the trial).
As an aside, it also conjures memories of the classic Alas Smith & Jones skit about the world’s most unfortunate man, Arthur Penis.
2. Had this incident occurred (the court ruled it didn’t) how would Russell have known it was half? A good lawyer would surely have pounced on that, so to speak.
Gayle described the publication of the story as “the most hurtful thing I have actually come across in my entire life”.
Coming from a man who has spent most his adult life playing cricket for the West Indies, that’s saying something.
For her part, Russell said the incident that never happened left her “crying uncontrollably, crying like a child”.
She had been motivated to tell her story after watching Gayle’s infamous boundary line “don’t blush baby” interview with Mel McLaughlin.
A couple of observations on that: Don’t Blush Baby was a car crash that has been coming from the day sports broadcasters decided having attractive female broadcasters conducting flash interviews (that’s a broadcasting term) pitch-side greatly enhanced their offerings. Of the long-line of potential drivers, Gayle would have been right at the front of the queue. He’s not exactly known for being shy around attractive females.
Secondly, a career that has involved significant amounts of time loitering around changing sheds of men’s professional sports teams allows this column to state with total certainty that they do contain penises.
If you’re the sort of person who can’t even say the word without apologising, then team masseuse might not be the most appropriate form of employment.
On to something that most certainly did happen. After hitting a key home run in Game 3 of what continues to be a stunning baseball World Series, Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel called Dodgers pitcher Yu Davish a “Chinito”.
The literal Spanish translation of the term is “little Chinese boy”.
Given that Darvish is Japanese and stands an impressive 1.96m (6ft 4 1/2 in old money), it’s possible to argue Gurriel was attempting ironic humour – possible, that is, until you see the pictures of him making a slit eye gesture at the same time.
MLB acted swiftly, stating there was no place for any sort of racism in the game and backing those strong words by suspending Gurriel for five games… next season.
Gurriel, a Cuban, has insisted he isn’t racist at all.
“I did not mean it to be offensive at any point,” Gurriel said. “Quite the opposite. I have always had a lot of respect [for Japanese people]. … I’ve never had anything against Darvish. For me, he’s always been one of the best pitchers. I never had any luck against him. If I offended him, I apologize. It was not my intention.”
Darvish, for his part, channelled the spirits of Oasis, Fleetwood Mac and the Armstrong brothers, Louis and Neil, when offering his thoughts on the incident via twitter.
— ダルビッシュ有(Yu Darvish) (@faridyu) October 28, 2017
“No one is perfect. That includes both you and I. What he had done today isn’t right, but I believe we should put our effort into learning rather than to accuse him. If we can take something from this, that is a giant step for mankind. Since we are living in such a wonderful world, let’s stay positive and move forward instead of focusing on anger. I’m counting on everyone’s big love.”