Should women commentate on the World Cup?
That was the question ITV’s ‘Good Morning Britain’ asked this Monday morning.
The answer seems obvious to me — yes.
Former Premier League footballer Jason Cundy sparked controversy on the popular breakfast show when he said women’s voices were ‘too high pitched’ for his taste.
The catalyst for the discussion was Vicki Sparks’ history-making shift last week.
The BBC reporter became the first woman to live commentate a men’s World Cup game on British television.
I thought her narration of Portugal’s 1-0 win over Morocco was great — commentators are made to work harder during dull games.
Some were less convinced of her performance, and that’s fine.
Everyone has their own preferences when it comes individual commentators, be they male or female.
Both BBC and ITV have several male commentators/pundits who I think detract from the viewing experience.
However, those on the other side of the debate prefer male commentators to female because of the pitch of their voice.
This argument seems flawed to me.
Do these same people not watch films with female protagonists?
Do they not listen to audiobooks or podcasts featuring women?
Do they change the channel if the newsreader is a woman?
Do they not speak to women in everyday life?
Surely if the problem is the pitch of their voice, these measures are common practice?
It seems the pitch of a women’s voice is only an annoyance to these people when placed into a football environment.
That hints at a more complex friction than simply pitch preference.
Many on social media were quick to dismiss the concept of female commentators because Sparks’ voice jarred with them.
Is it not unfair to judge half the world’s population on one woman’s voice?
Mark Lawrenson’s monotonous musings aggravate many, but nobody concludes that men’s voices are too expressionless for football.
I’d like to think, perhaps naively, that those who oppose Sparks’ presence in the gantry are simply experiencing a common disturbance — unfamiliarity.
Generally speaking, people hate change.
Hopefully, once a women’s voice is a familiar accompaniment to men’s football, the backlash will evaporate.
We’ve already been made to cringe as Patrice Evra patronised Eni Eluko with a round of applause after she had articulated a fitting summary.
The England Women’s international has impressed viewers with her informed opinions on punditry duty.
The same can’t be said for Evra, who openly admitted to not knowing much about either Benjamin Pavard or Lucas Hernandez.
You’d think former France left-back Evra would have something interesting on the topic of France left-backs, but no.
The former Man United captain’s contribution has been limited to an anecdote about Cristiano Ronaldo playing Rio Ferdinanad at table tennis, and a bow tie.
Phil Neville felt the need to reiterate Alex Scott’s insight a second after she had finished speaking — as if the show couldn’t continue unless her point was either debunked or validated.
BBC and ITV should be commended for employing women in roles usually monopolised by men.
Unfortunately, social media has played host to some unsavoury opinions…
Thankfully, there’s plenty of support for the trailblazers as well…