It's a weird day in sport and media and the universe generally when a middle-aged male sports journalist quits because, in his own words, he's not "visually appealing" enough.
But that's what happened overnight, a few days after long-serving and respected footy broadcaster Craig Hutchison announced he will no longer front Channel 9's flagship sports and entertainment program, The Footy Show.
On his podcast The Sounding Board, he said:
"I think there's a reasonable expectation that if you're going to host a television show... you're in good nick to do it and that you're visually appealing to the audience."
In the wake of this revelation, you can only imagine that scores of male sports reporters will now vacate their seats quicker than Carlton fans at three-quarter-time -- and that includes this one, who has been on numerous panels over the years, and is himself no oil painting.
"Hutchy", 42, has been a Footy Show host for a year. But the show has been flailing in the ratings of late, repeatedly beaten by Channel Seven's rival program The Front Bar.
The Front Bar has a lighter, fresher touch. On the plus side, it has nothing from the Paleolithic era a la Sam Newman (we're talking "entertainment" standards, not age). On the flipside, it has no female host like the natural, knowledgeable, super-likeable Rebecca Maddern.
But overall, The Front Bar feels like the light, vaguely footy-orientated panel show which is perfect for the times. In contrast, The Footy Show -- like Hawthorn -- feels like yesterday's thing.
Hutchison, to his credit, kicked a straight ball when he said:
"The numbers weren't there. The ratings... we lost four nights of the year. In Footy Show parlance it's like the Harlem Globetrotters losing four games. It never happens, and it never has happened. The only discernible difference to the year before was me. I have to take it on the chin and take full responsibility for it."
You've got to admire the dignity with which Hutchy has carried himself this week. As he said, the numbers just weren't there. He didn't fudge his way around that fact. As for the "visual appeal" side of his argument, it was a little harder to take on face value -- excuse the pun.
Hutchy's a pretty traditional sort of character, so it was perhaps rightly felt by Nine types that a little extra zing was needed from the host. But did looks really have anything to do with that? The Front Bar host and co-producer Mick Molloy doesn't exactly resemble an athlete himself. No one ever held that against him, and nor, of course, should they have.
Meanwhile, The Footy Show's original host Eddie McGuire is coming back to rescue his old ship and set it -- he hopes -- back on course by adding "more fun" which ironically, is exactly what Hutchy promised before he took over.
As for whether Eddie adds more of that "visual appeal" which Hutchy felt he lacked, no comment.Suggest a correction