It will have escaped nobody’s attention that Alex Scott and Eni Aluko are female pundits offering their opinions at the World Cup.
Nor will most have missed the fact that the pair has shown the majority of male pundits to be the lazy, vacuous, cliché-driven waste grounds we all know them to be.
Patrice Evra’s surprise and condescension when Aluko demonstrated that she knew what she was talking about while delivering what she is paid for – to provide insightful analysis for us football idiots at home – was not unique.
It just happened to be televised.
All across the globe, in every sector in every industry, women are treated like dogs that can play the piano when they display expert knowledge. Awwww! Isn’t that so cute, look at all the stuff she knows! Bless her little heart!
But to Scott and Aluko, and every woman watching, Evra’s actions will have come as no surprise. They know only too well that to be considered half as good as a man, they have to be twice as good.
They also know that all women are judged by what they say or do while the likes of Robbie Savage never have to worry that the reputation of men everywhere rests squarely on their shoulders. Can you imagine anything more absurd than that?
During a recent World Cup match Mark Lawrenson admitted he had found his pre-match research, that someone else compiled for him, ‘boring’ so he just didn’t bother reading it. He decided, while on air and supposed to be providing viewers with information, that he would just ask his co-commentator instead.
Lawrenson is also a pundit who gives the distinct impression that he’d rather be anywhere else than watching or talking about football, a sentiment shared by most who have to listen to him. Handed an elite broadcasting position that clearly requires him to do no actual work to prepare simply because he played football in the last century, he treats his role with disdain.
Scott and Aluko treat it like the chance of a lifetime that offers them little-to-no room for error because, for them, that’s exactly what it is, highlighting the privilege men still enjoy in the game.
Watching Scott and Aluko has been more than a little refreshing. They can’t afford to be lazy in their analysis and, as a result, us, the viewing public benefit.
Perhaps if we started holding male pundits to the same standards we expect of women, they’d start justifying their seat, screentime and salaries, while offering something of value to us watching at home.
Surely, it’s only a matter of time before TV companies realise that being a former player who is male does not automatically mean you know what you’re talking about.
For far too long we’ve accepted drivel as standard, hailing Gary Neville because he stands out like Per Mertesacker at the Arsenal academy simply because he does his homework and knows what he is talking about.
We can dream that between him, Scott and Aluko, the others will be shamed into improving.
Until that happens, however, I wouldn’t advise holding my breath.