Sports columnist should apologise

On the one hand there’s Nelson Mandela; on the other, Eddie Mahon.

One of the less remarked-upon aspects of the legacy of Mandiba was his effort to increase gender equality. What a contrast to the attitude of your columnist.

To take a recent example - last month, on the very day the world was celebrating the life of the great Mandela, Eddie Mahon was displaying a level of bigotry and discrimination not befitting modern times or indeed the Derry Journal.

His comments began: “Regulars of this column will probably be aware that I’m not the great fan of women’s sport in particular and the contact games in particular.”

He went on to talk about some of his male friends finding the “grunting and screaming” of female tennis players “quite . .er . . attractive”. One shudders to think what he was inferring. The column continued in this vein.

As a woman, I was greatly offended and, as a human being, I was deeply hurt.

Mr Mahon’s intolerance of women in sport and women in authority is almost palpable. Would you have printed his same sentiments if he replaced the word ‘women’ with ‘black people’?!

The reason I make the similarity is because of the deep prejudice that both women and black people have endured over the centuries.

And before my thoughts are shrugged off and labelled ‘feminist’, what I am is a humanist. I also truly believe that every person (male or female) should be celebrated for getting off the sofa and being active, whether that is a walk in the park or at elite level.

With the current obesity pandemic, if only we knew how to get everyone active, we would not be heading into such a public health crisis. Positive health behaviours such as being physically active are established in childhood; those of us actively involved in sport and the promotion of physical activity encourage children and adults to be as active as they can. Mr. Mahon’s sentiments do not complement this work and I haven’t found his attitude anywhere else in my dealings with people in sport.

Mr. Mahon should apologise and so should your paper.

Lynda Hegarty