Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Three Lessons From The Dean Jones Muslim Slur

By Thomas Murrell MBA CSP, International Business Speaker

Former Australian cricket star Dean Jones will learn from his recent on air gaffe.

He departed Sri Lanka in disgrace after describing a South African Muslim cricketer as a "terrorist" during a test match with South Africa.

It has been reported Jones was on a contract of around $2,000 a day, but has subsequently been fired.

The Dubai-based Ten Sports network sacked him over comments about devout Muslim Hashim Amla: "The terrorist has got another wicket". Jones thought the broadcast had switched to an ad-break, only to learn it had been heard around the world.

After a dazzling career, including being named cricketer of the year in 1990, 3,631 runs in 52 Tests for Australia at an average of 46.55, Jones quit international cricket in 1994 to become a television announcer.

Angry viewers jammed network switchboards to complain. South African team officials demanded Jones' immediate dismissal.

His media career is now in tatters. It just shows reputations take years to build, yet can be lost in just seconds.

Here's three lessons you can learn from the Dean Jones Muslim slur:

1) The Microphone Is Always On

I was taught this lesson at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as a fresh faced University graduate by my wise mentor and presentation coach Arch McKirdy.

When in front of a microphone, always consider it is "live" or on.

2) Avoid Racist Comments

As I tell my executive speech coaching clients, never ever use racist humour. It is just not acceptable.

As Gerald Majola, the chief executive of Cricket South Africa, said in a statement.

"We take the strongest exception to the comment. This kind of racial stereotyping has no place in cricket and must be stamped out swiftly."

3) Apologise Immediately

"I wish it never happened. It was said after we went to a break. . . I put my microphone down and just said it, unfortunately," Jones told media. "I don't even know why I thought about saying it."

Always apologise immediately.

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