THE fallout from the Barry Hall furore continues as his vulgar remark exposes a deeper problem some believe has been glossed over in the immediate aftermath of the incident.
Sydney Swans premiership captain Hall was sacked by Triple M on Friday night for making an offensive remark about the pregnant wife of ex-St Kilda star Leigh Montagna. Hall was broadcasting with Montagna and made the comment during a pre-match chat before the Bulldogs’ clash against Geelong.
Hall’s comment was regarding a technique used by medical professionals, known as a “membrane sweep” — which Montagna’s wife Erin underwent to induce labour. Hall insinuated the doctor acted in a sexually inappropriate way. For the comments, Hall was fired during the match.
But while the 41-year-old has been widely condemned for his appalling one-liner, football presenter Shelley Ware believes the blowtorch shouldn’t just be focused on the AFL Hall of Famer.
Ware — a presenter on the Marngrook Footy Show — said she was more “shocked” by the behaviour of Hall’s co-commentators after he made the comment.
Hall was sharing the box with footy great Nathan Brown, journalist Damian Barrett and broadcaster Mark Howard — and at least two of them responded with laughter after the crude remark.
Ware was also upset the chat carried on as if nothing untoward had happened, with none of Hall’s colleagues prepared to step in and pull him into line.
“I was really distressed by the fact that they just kept talking and some of the biggest names in AFL were there with him and they didn’t stop him at any point and say that it was wrong,” Ware told Channel 9’s The Today Show on Sunday.
“So that made the whole thing just that little bit more disturbing.”
Asked if she thinks more people should have been reprimanded or lost their job, Ware said: “I do. I think that there needs to be a conversation about how these boys handled it.
“If you listen to prior to what he said and afterwards, I was just as shocked by their reactions so I do think we need to have a conversation about what’s going on with those men.”
Ware said while showing genuine remorse and apologising — which Hall has done — is an important part of the process, educating men — particularly in football circles — on appropriate attitudes to women needs to be stepped up so we don’t see repeats of this episode.
She wants to see cultural change within the football industry so it outgrows the “boys club” reputation it has regularly been tagged with.
“This culture and this whole boys club that we have been a part of in the AFL for so long, I think we need a whole cultural change,” Ware said. “My biggest concern is how Erin is feeling in this whole situation, so that’s where my mind is at the moment.
“It’s all about education and clearly Barry needs to be educated. He needs to have some conversations with people about how women feel and talk to women.
“He just needs conversation and education.
“And also the people around him, there’s a big campaign at the moment, they should have said, ‘No, stop talking Barry, this is not OK.’”
Weekend Today co-host Allison Langdon backed Ware’s comments, saying the fact it was more than just Hall who thought his comment was acceptable showed the AFL has a cultural problem it needs to address.
“You had more than just Barry in that conversation feeling the joke about that was OK,” Langdon said. “That shows that even though the AFL’s pushing a lot of things to do with women’s roles in the game, they’ve got a long way to go, don’t they?”
Also addressing the matter on The Today Show was Channel 9 and Triple M reporter Seb Costello, who defended Triple M and said nobody involved with the radio giant thought what Hall did was OK.
“We take our place as being a media outlet that has a large male audience, we take that responsibility very seriously,” Costello said. “Nobody from management down thinks those comments are acceptable.
“Tomorrow morning (on Triple M Melbourne breakfast show The Hot Breakfast) we’ll be having a very frank discussion about what needs to change. The audience will be involved and we’ll be saying sorry and asking how we can learn.”
Hall issued a public apology to Montagna and his wife Erin on Saturday afternoon, saying it was “not a reflection of who I am or what my views are”.
Channel 10 star and panellist on The Project Meshel Laurie also launched a passionate plea on social media for Australia to try and learn from Hall’s comment, saying this incident should provide a platform to open a mature discussion on why exactly his “joke” was so offensive.
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