Wynne Gray on sport
Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray:Give Ma'a break, gosh darn it


Bugger it. Get over the swearing bit from Ma'a Nonu.

The midfielder, by all accounts, was a little bit emotional after a tough win for the 'Canes when a radio reporter plonked a microphone under his nose and asked a few questions.

What did the soundbite searcher expect? "Oh, I'm really tired now but it was wonderful to get a victory and stay in the hunt for the Super 14 playoffs."

Instead he got the raw emotion of the moment and those back in the studio chose to broadcast the response.

If they did not like the tenor of the conversation, they could have cancelled it with their dump button.

Nonu had just scored two tries as part of a great Hurricanes comeback and, when interviewed, let rip with seven expletives in a short space of time.

If you listen closely to television commentaries or use Sports Ears to try to understand a game, there are many similar moments. Maybe not at the machine-gun pace used by Nonu but they exist.

All across our television. The other night Mickey Rourke's profanities were bleeped out on Close Up while there was similar liberal censorship on a Police Ten 7 programme not long after. Nonu did not get the same protection.

Some confuse swearing as a sign of maturity or believe it is a rite of passage when its habitual use shows a limited appreciation of our rich language.

But that's life, we cannot all be erudite and careful.

Even the well-educated and considered Conrad Smith inadvertently, or maybe not, lapsed later when explaining Nonu's potty-mouth responses.

If you have ever been near a halftime huddle or dressing room gee-up, the air is usually blue.

Remember the swearing in a documentary about North Harbour rugby or Irish hooker Keith Wood topping those levels in a Lions rugby programme.

Tune in to Gordon Ramsay or Billy Connolly on the tele and there are consistent bleep moments.

This year, Reds stand-in captain Van Humphries delivered an array of profanities in a post-match huddle which rivalled Nonu for speed and outdid him for variation. Sky poked their microphone into the talk and copped the full content.

Complaints? Can't remember any.

Coaches have sprayed journos with considerable venom as one did accusing me of being a "dirty, shafting little ****," some years ago. He was not reprimanded when the conversation was repeated in print.

Quotes from players like Jerry Collins had to be "massaged" for general consumption because of their liberal swearing content.

We have moved on from Peter Jones' memorable "I'm absolutely buggered" reaction in 1956 to the Nonu-style variations. It's not great but it's life.

That is raw emotion and if radio or television wants to give us reality, then they are going to have to wear some of it.

We've had sledging, biting, butting, eye-gouging, the Xmas grip and the Hopoate hold. Now we've had some swearing. Tell me what's worse.

- NZ Herald

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