The BBC, box-ticking, and Gabby Logan on Match Of The Day 3

The Premier League Owl

Gary Lineker didn’t anchor Match Of The Day on Saturday night, and so Gabby Logan took over presenting duties for the week. To be cynical, the use of Logan in that role was akin to the BBC screaming ‘look, we’re letting a woman do it!’

Logan is a decent enough presenter, but she didn’t seem terribly comfortable in the presenting chair and her interaction with Mick McCarthy and Alan Hansen was fairly benign. None of that has anything to do with her gender, she’s merely the wrong person for that job.

Whilst the BBC executives are doubtless feeling terribly smug about the demonstration of equality, they’re probably failing to realise that they’re accentuating the negative here. They suffered a lot of blowback for their all-male shortlist for the Sports Personality Of The Year award in 2011, but simply crowbarring a woman into prominence for the sake of it is really to nobody’s benefit – decisions like this should be gender-irrelevant, and made purely on the basis of talent.

If a predominantly male audience is watching Match Of The Day or any other headline sporting event, and perceives that the coverage is being diluted to suit having a female influence involved, then nobody wins – ugly stereotypes fester, and progress towards a genuinely level playing field slows.

The question the BBC should be asking themselves is not: ‘how can we use Gabby Logan’, but rather: ‘where are the next generation of female sportscasters’. Doesn’t it seem strange that while lanky personality vacuums like Jake Humphrey can be plucked liberally off the trees, there are no obvious candidates to follow in Clare Balding’s footsteps?

Gabby Logan is a good journalist, and she’s put together a solid career – but wouldn’t it be nice to have a woman given these opportunities who isn’t the daughter of a former football manager and who isn’t married to an ex-international rugby player? Logan hasn’t kept her job because of her family, but that doesn’t really matter so long as the perception remains that she has done.

As ever with the BBC and their approach to anything of social importance, they just don’t seem to get it – ill-fitting and overly-simplistic solutions to complex problems. The net result? Very little actual progress.

The BBC isn’t the only channel guilty of this, because it’s a industry wide issue – and no Sky Sports, having Amazonian-Goddesses presenting on your news channel doesn’t count as ‘opening up opportunities’, because all that actually says is that ‘yes, you’re equal – but only if men want to look at you’. This is Stoneage stuff, and it’s still worryingly prevalent.

No more quick fixes for the sake of appearances.

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