Kevin Pietersen Bullies His Way Into The Headlines Once Again
If there is one thing that strikes you about Kevin Pietersen it is the fact that he is a very hard man to ignore. This is the case at the best of times but when he has a new book to promote, you know that he is going to have a few zingers to unleash on people. He may have picked the wrong time to unleash his book, running up against the headline grabbing juggernaut that is an angry Roy Keane, but Pietersen has a few revelations of his own, most notably the flagging up of bullying in top class cricket, and in his career.
For some people, this will not be a shock at all. After all, there is a large level of consensus that professional sportsmen are nothing more than immature youngsters, spending their days in the same sort of manner that teenage boys would. In this environment, you can understand why bullying would be prevalent. However, you are also dealing with grown adults at the top of their profession, everyone operating at a level that the vast majority of the population and their fans can only dream of achieving. Top class sportsmen may not be the most complex of people but they certainly create some highly complex situations.
Pietersen had a number of complaints
Pietersen raised a number of issues of bullying, with the most prevalent one being the fake Twitter account which he claims to have burst into tears before a Test Match over the account. Pietersen believed that the account was being run by someone who knew the inner workings of the dressing room.
In the book, also raised allegations about players like Matt Prior, Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson, stating that they would demand apologies from team-mates who dropped catches or made notable mistakes in the course of a game. The players accused of acting in this manner have all moved to deny these allegations, but Pietersen has found support from Steve Harmison. Harmison agrees that there has been a culture of bullying in the English game and that not enough has been done to limit this form of behaviour. He also believes that people associated with Pietersen in the game have been held back or missed out on opportunities due to their association with the player.
Harmison did however say that Pietersen was not a victim with respect to bullying with regards to the fake twitter account, and this perhaps creates a situation where there will never be agreement over what constitutes bullying.
Sport has a problem with “banter”
We are still living in an era where Neanderthals like Richard Keys and Andy Gray feel as though they can be sexist yet explain their behaviour by saying “it was just banter”. Putting that distasteful pair to one side, it is clear that what one person deems to be “banter” is not going to be the same opinion that another person holds on it. In the cases cited by Pietersen, some of the players will no doubt felt that they were acting in a way to encourage their team mates or perhaps even break down some of the frostiness that can occur in a dressing room. There is a need for there to be a communal spirit in a dressing room, and different people will attempt to alleviate a situation in one way, while other people will attempt to alleviate a problem in another.
Given that he himself has been deemed to be a prickly character of the highest order, there is no doubt that the thoughts and actions of Pietersen will have rubbed up people in the wrong manner. Given that he has a wide who is a former pop star and someone who put herself through the reality TV treadmill on more than one occasion, he is part of a couple who have no problems with self-promotion and putting themselves in front of the media.
In this light, you would think that Pietersen would have a thick skin and knows the dangers that come with putting yourself up for being shot at. There is a need to take bullying seriously and if senior players are overstepping the mark with respect to their attitude to younger players, then changes need to be made. However, false cries of bullying for attention and book sales can be equally damaging, because it means if someone is suffering, their genuine complaints may be ignored or overlooked at a later date. This is something that Kevin Pietersen wants to think about because this is not the sort of legacy you want to leave behind you.