Flat White

Did a lack of diversity in the commentary box spoil your grand final too?

25 October 2020

3:36 PM

25 October 2020

3:36 PM

It was difficult to sit through the AFL grand final knowing all the television commentators were white.

I had been so looking forward to the historic first night grand final and, were it not for the lack of diversity in the commentary box, I would have enjoyed the game. 

The atmosphere was electric and the game thrilling. But not a single Channel Seven commentator was black. Not even one. Can you believe it?

To my great shame, the issue of skin colour in the commentary box had not even crossed my mind until just before the opening bounce when ABC presenter Patricia Karvelas tweeted:

“As the #AFLGF approaches it’s worth reflecting on the lack of diversity in the ranks of those commentating on the sport that boasts so many successful Indigenous players.” 

As the AFL grand final approached, I had been reflecting on whether Geelong champion Gary Ablett would win a premiership in his last game or whether Richmond star Dustin Martin would win a third Norm Smith Medal.  

But suddenly, the important issue of racial diversity amongst the commentary team was all I could think about.


The white but woke Karvelas continued: “Proud that the @ABCaustralia has hired @Tonaayy but the rest of the media needs to do better #Indigenous” 

Indeed. The sheltered workshop which is the ABC has token people. Why not commercial media?

This is meant as no offence to Tony Armstrong who was mentioned in Karvelas’ tweet. Armstrong is a former Collingwood footballer whom the ABC poached from Triple M radio in Melbourne where he was calling football for “the rest of the media that needs to do better”.  

But wouldn’t it be better to be proud of Armstrong for being a great commentator than for being a diversity hire?

Replying to Karvelas’ tweet, former Australian netball coach Lisa Alexander added: “Also perhaps more women as well.”

And why not! I think we can all agree that the Grand Final would have been much better if it had been called by a black man. Or a woman. Or a black woman. Or a black trans woman. You get the idea.

Instead, we were stuck with a supremacy of white men whose only qualifications to call the biggest game of the year were decades in sports broadcasting and/or stellar football careers that gave them expert insights into the game. 

Way to ruin the AFL grand final Channel Seven.

That Abbey Holmes was part of the commentary team is no credit to the commercial broadcaster. The former AFLW player was used to give expert commentary from the boundary … in the rain. Presumably because the patriarchy didn’t want her indoors with them.

Hopefully, next year’s grand final commentary team will better reflect the diversity in the general community. And if the approved melanin and genitals happen to correspond with commentary ability and football knowledge, then even better.

But the next AFL grand final is a year away. So in the meantime, perhaps we could reflect on the lack of diversity in the ranks of those commentating politics on the ABC.

I wonder what percentage of ABC broadcasters and regular panel guests would be conservative?

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.


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