Tennis legend Martina Navratlilova is shocked. The nine times Wimbledon champion who received £15,000 for punditry duties at last years tournament at SW19, recently learned that John McEnroe was paid ten times more than her for live commentary and post match analysis. Martina told the BBC's Panorama programme that while McEnroe might've worked a few more matches and put in a few more hours, she is shocked that there is such a disparity for what amounts to very comparable work. We'll come back to very comparable work in a moment. Navratilova then engaged in a bit of virtue signalling. She said that while it's just a part time job, two weeks of her life, she just can't help thinking about the women who work full time at the BBC. Yes I'm sure you're overcome with concern Martina.

Speaking of virtue signalling, you should have been listening to TV and radio this morning. Men were coming out of the woodwork to support Martina. "How can this be happening in 2018!" they lamented. "Shame on the BBC" they cried. I was waiting for someone to scream "Won't somebody please think of the children!" It would have been apt if someone had. What sort of message is this nonsense sending to youngsters? Are we teaching them that their gender, race and sexual orientation are trump cards to be played whenever they feel that they have been slighted, overlooked, demoted or find that someones terms and conditions are more favourable than theirs? Look in the mirror first eh? Gender has nothing to do with Navratilova getting £15k and Mac earning ten times that. He is a vastly superior broadcaster and commentator! He is box office. He is as gifted behind the microphone as he was at the net. McEnroe is a raconteur of such ability that when he's in the commentary box I often find myself praying for rain so that he'll start telling his seemingly endless canon of witty and often self-deprecating stories. He's a genius and not to put too fine a point on it, Martina is as boring as a dogs arse. I'm sorry, she is. She's one of the greatest players that ever lived and is eminently qualified to talk about the game, but you'd rather entertain Father Stone for a month then listen to Martina's droning monotone. Very comparable work my arse.

Has it occurred to Martina, that maybe, just maybe John is better than her and that there is no shame in that? Did she ever think that he might have a better agent? Nobody mentioned contract negotiations this morning! What a bunch of self obsessed narcissists we've become. I didn't see it when I started my radio career. Some presenters with daily shows were paid more than others on the daily roster, because they were better and had a bigger audience. Most accepted it and were happy with their lot while some gritted their teeth and worked harder. Remember those days, when people were inspired by and aspired to learn from those who were doing better than them? These days it is easier to blame someone else as Navratilova did on Panorama. “It’s still the good old boys’ network ... The bottom line is that male voices are valued more than women’s voices,” she said. Really Martina? What about Sue Barker, Hazel Irvine, Gabby Logan and of course Clare Balding? Those women front tennis, rugby, athletics, football and snooker coverage for the BBC. They weren't held back by the good ol' boys network right? They've earned their gigs through talent, sheer hard work and a willingness to learn. And maybe they exercised just a little humility along the road too.

I am not suggesting that women haven't been screwed over in the past. They absolutely have. But this "I'm a victim" race to the bottom is sinister and very dangerous. Don't teach children that the setbacks and knockbacks that they will undoubtedly encounter as they develop, can be blamed on A.N Other. Don't do that. Don't foster a generation of hysterical crybabies who can never be wrong or can never be at fault. No good can possibly come of it.

 

 

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Richie is the host of The Richie Allen Show and has enjoyed a long, and varied, broadcasting career.