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Roy Hodgson isn’t a racist, he just tells crap jokes

20 October, 2013

There’s a joke – not a particularly good one – where an astronaut and a monkey are to be sent into space. The monkey is given a huge list of important tasks to perform – steer the ship, check the navigation, carry out some experiments etc etc – but the mission people don’t give any jobs to the astronaut. “So what’s my job?” he asks. “Your job is to feed the monkey.”

Not that funny, but the reason I bring this up is that Roy Hodgson, England’s football manager, referred to the joke during his half-time talk on Tuesday night. Andros Townsend, in only his second game for his country, was having a great game and Hodgson told one of the other players that his job was to get the ball to Townsend. In reference to the joke, his most important job was to “feed the monkey.”

This was leaked to the press by someone after the game, presumably by a player or a player’s acquaintance but we don’t know. Their issue with the comment, and the issue which a couple of papers ran with, is that because Townsend is black, Hodgson’s comment was therefore racist.

It may have been a rubbish joke, but in no way was there a racist intent behind it. Players have since gone on record to say no offence was intended or taken, Hodgson has apologised for any offence he may have unwittingly caused. Which in my mind leaves those anonymous persons who went to the press looking stupid.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all in favour of what the right-wing press like to derisively call “political correctness” (usually followed by the words “gone mad” when they misrepresent a story), but I prefer to call it understanding and just plain good manners. As a white middle class able-bodied straight man I have all the advantages in society and have never suffered discrimination in any form, but I remember darker times when black kids in our street had the N word shouted at them. That is just unthinkable now, and that is a direct consequence of political correctness.

Only thirty-odd years ago, I was at football matches, not every match but on occasions, when monkey noises were made when black players touched the ball, bananas were thrown on the pitch, goals scored by black players were not counted by some fans. All this within my lifetime but thankfully and rightfully now no longer part of the English game. Apart from the very occasional and isolated incident, football is a colourblind game. It is not unusual to see teams with a majority of players who happen to be black, and it is barely noticed, never mind remarked upon or criticised.

I’m not naïve. Society and football are not 100% free of discrimination and oppression and it needs to be highlighted and stamped out wherever it occurs. But by falsely crying wolf in this way, those who leaked the story just look stupid.

Nobody outside of the papers that printed this story saw anything untoward in the comments. The claims of racism are as ludicrous as saying I am a racist because I don’t like our new black away shirt. I don’t like it, and I don’t like it because it’s black. You don’t need to know that our away shirt is traditionally yellow to realise that my dislike is aesthetic, not racist. And my dislike of Hodgson’s comment is nothing to do with racism, it’s to do with it being a crap joke.


From → Blogging, Football

  1. one of the best and most timely post ever

  2. Agree with your brilliant mind.

  3. I am so sick and tired of the media making everything “racist” and I think it’s a cop out, like they can’t think of something legitimate to say so they throw that word around… yes of course it exists, I’m just a girl after all (sarcasm) and maybe I live in a fools paradise but where I live I just don’t see it and there are people of all shapes and sizes and colors and religions and cars and dogs and cats, ok I’m getting silly but it seems to me that there are (pardon the expression) shit-stirrers who try to encourage racism,,, I don’t like them and they need to stop… I also want a pony and possibly a unicorn 😀

    • I’m all for exposing racism and other forms of oppression / discrimination where it appears, but finding racism where there is none just gives amunition to those who think anyone who points out injustice is guilty of “political correctness gone mad!”

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