Business Insider Edition

Sky Sports to ban use of certain words after study showed racial bias in football commentary

Barnaby Lane , Business Insider US
 Jul 06, 2020, 12:39 PM
  • Broadcaster Sky Sports have devised a list of banned words and phrases for commentators after a study revealed there to be significant bias in English football commentary.
  • Danish research firm RunRepeat analysed over 2000 statements from commentators during matches across Europe from the 2019/20 season.
  • It found that commentators are more likely to praise black players for their speed and power, while also more likely to criticise them in regards to their intelligence.
  • According to Sportsmail, one of the phrases on Sky's banned list is "nitty gritty," which is thought to have roots in slavery.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Broadcaster Sky Sports has devised a list of banned words and phrases for commentators after a study revealed there to be significant racial bias in English football commentary.

The study, carried out by Danish research firm RunRepeat, analysed over 2000 statements from commentators during matches across Europe from the 2019/20 season.

It found that when commentators talk about power and speed, they are respectively 6.59 and 3.38 times more likely to be referencing a black player, while black players were also more regularly criticised with regard to their intelligence.

Jason Lee, the Professional Footballer's Association's equalities executive, said the study "shows an evident bias in how we describe the attributes of footballers based on their skin colour."

In response, Sky Sports has now provided its commentators and match reporters with a list of phrases which are deemed out of bounds in order to avoid such bias, according to Sportsmail.

Though the list has yet to surface into the public domain, Sportsmail reports that the phrase "nitty-gritty" is one of those that has been banned.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the phrase means: "The fundamentals, realities or basic facts of a situation or subject. The heart of the matter."

However, there are suggestions that the phrase has roots in the English slave trade, when it was used to refer to debris left in the bottom of slave ships once the slaves have been removed.

There is no concrete evidence to support this theory of the phrase's etymology, but the term has been banned by the English police force, says Sportsmail.

Sky Sports did not immediately reply to Insider's request for comment.

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