You may have seen the story this week about the New Zealand broadcaster which has made headlines around the world for all the wrong reasons.
The story revolves around a "broadcaster" called Michael Laws who on his radio last Friday labeled Paralympic Sport "ludicrous" and claimed it was "crazy" that Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games gold medalist Adam Hall was shortlisted for a prestigious sports award just because he fell in his final run. He also came out with some other derogatory comments which I don’t wish to repeat.
To say I’m utterly disgusted by the whole affair is an understatement. I am stunned and staggered that people with views like Michael Laws still exist on this planet and even more surprised that there are still broadcasters out there who employ people like him.
Talkshow DJ’s aim to provoke and spark debate but what Michael Laws said is insulting to all Paralympic athletes around the world who put in hours of training every day of the week to compete at the highest level.
I have been pretty vocal with my views on the story but two things really are nagging me about the whole thing.
First, Laws claims that because Adam Hall fell during his second run in Vancouver, yet still managed to win gold, it shows that there is no competition in Paralympic Sport. Well that is utter nonsense.
I was there in Vancouver and saw the race. Adam Hall won gold for two reasons - a sensational opening run that put him well ahead of the field and an astonishing recovery during his second run when he fell that ensured he didn’t lose too much time.
Such a comeback would be considered by most people as heroic and it is, but not in the eyes of Laws.
It’s a shame then that he didn’t tune into the 1994 Winter Olympics to see Alberto Tomba, one of the greatest Olympic skiers of all time, in action. The Italian had a terrible first run in the men’s slalom and was 1.84sec behind the leader. In his second run however, he put in a mesmerising performance to move up the leader board and take silver.
No-one, including Laws, claimed this was due to lack of competition, just the skill of an elite athlete at the top of his game and the same can be said about Adam Hall.
The second thing bothering me is RadioWorks, the station which employs Michael Laws.
When the story broke, the station claimed they were taking no action as they had not received any complaints.
Why on earth should it take complaints from listeners for them to realise that what their employee said was an absolute disgrace and wrong on so many levels?
This is why I have sent a letter to the station asking for them to remove Laws from their airwaves. No-one should have to listen to that man’s polluted views again and I have encouraged listeners and advertisers in New Zealand to boycott the station until he is rightly removed.
I would urge people to do the same, but also to write to Radio Works to complain about Michael Laws. This man needs removing immediately and the more complaints they receive the more likely this is to happen. To complain simply visit the "Make a Complaint" section of www.mediaworks.co.nz
. For reference the show was broadcast on 11 February 2011 between 9am and 12pm and hopefully soon it won’t be broadcast again.
Fingers crossed this sorry episode will come to an end soon. If RadioWorks are still unsure of what to do I’m sure BBC Radio Two and more recently Sky Sports have some good cases for them to study.
Sir Philip Craven is the President of the International Paralympic Committee