Fair Play

NZ Cricket President Debbie Hockley Threatened with Violence

Debbie Hockley, New Zealand Cricket

NZ Cricket President is facing threats of violence, sexism and misogyny and a petition to remove her from the Sky Commentary Team

Fair Play, hosted by Zoe George, is a co-production with Radio New Zealand

Podcast length 32 mins

The president of New Zealand Cricket, Debbie Hockley has been threatened with physical violence and referred to in sexist terms in a petition set up to get her dumped from the Sky cricket commentary team. Zoe George discusses what women in sport media have to cope with on a daily basis, and we find out what is being done about the petition; we hear from Fair Play co-host Sophie Devine who won Player of the Year at this year’s NZ Cricket Awards, we have post analysis of the Commonwealth Games and an update on potty parity at Wellington’s Basin Reserve. This month’s co-host is sports psychologist Karen Nimmo and who explains the effects of narcissism in sport. What is it, is it actually a good thing and how does it contribute to a team environment?

This month’s Fair Play contains strong language that some might find offensive.

Debbie Hockley, The president of New Zealand Cricket, has been threatening with physical violence and referred to in sexist terms in a petition set up to get her dumped from the Sky cricket commentary team. The petition, which is on Change.org was established four weeks ago by Hamiltonian Chris Higgens, who says the former international cricketer must be removed from the commentary box because quote “she says some really retarded things” and her commentary is a quote “absolute joke”.

The petition is being aimed at Sky TV New Zealand who broadcasts the cricket and contracts the commentators.

Earlier in the season she acknowledged she made a “rookie” mistake by calling a spectator “Serena Williams”.

Chris Higgens says he’s not a fan of Debbie Hockley’s commentary because she doesn’t have the same level of knowledge as the male commentators.

Quote: “At least all the male commentators know the basic fundamentals and they don’t say absolutely outrageous things that are just stupid.”

So far 430 people have signed it and dozens have left their comments on it. Some comments did mention her ability as a commentator. But other comments include one saying he “would smash” Hockley. She’s also told to “shut the fuck up”, others called her a “stupid bimbo” and a “cunt”.

But Chris Higgins doesn’t support comments he believes are derogatory. He goes on the say… “Some of the comments were the sort of things that my mum would say…”

The petition has been called misinformed, misguided and misogynistic by New Zealand Cricket.

We were hoping to talk with Debbie Hockley but she is unavailable.

New Zealand cricket were able to provide a statement:

NZC describe the petition has “misinformed, misguided and, in terms of some of the more intolerant comments, misogynist. It’s also hopelessly confused, in that it incorrectly attributes to Debbie comments made by another female SKY commentator.”

NZC’s Public affairs manager Richard Boock says the organisation will continue to be supportive of having female voices within the commentary team and that some of the comments made on the petition justify NZC’s push for more gender diversity in the game.

While the petition is lodged on change.org, which the ICC nor NZC have any jurisdiction over, NZC says that if these terms were made by players during a game they would be up for code of conduct penalties.

If they were made by the crowd at international games and heard by security the person would be ejected and possible police action taken.

NZC has adopted “inclusivity” policy which aims to confront inappropriate barriers, practices and attitudes and to ensure everyone is treated with respect regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religion.

Sky Sport will be doing a review of the commentary and the team in the next little while – this happens with all sports – then decisions will be made about the team about 2 months out from the cricket season.

In an article in the New Zealand Herald head of Sky Sport Richard Last says he, and the organisation, support women in the commentary box.

Being threatened with physical violence and being called a bitch, bimbo or worse is something many female journalists experience.

Research conducted by RNZ’s Charlotte Graham-McLay found negative feedback about female broadcasters mentioned their gender far more often than negative feedback about men did… and when people did complain about men it was about their journalism.

Sports academic Toni Bruce, and sports journalist Dana Johanssen shine some light on this.

  • Is this common
  • Why we think this happens
  • Discussion around personal experiences
  • And what can be done to curb harassment
  • Psychologically

Staying with cricket, earlier this month the New Zealand Cricket awards happened on Auckland’s Waterfront. It was a glitzy affair with all the big names including Fair Play Co-host Sophie Devine. I caught up with her just after she received a rather big award.

Narcissism in Sport

I think it’s great that we recognise and celebrate great talent… but what if I celebrate my own achievements and skills? Does that make us a narcissist? What is narcissism? Is it actually healthy? How can we spot a narcissist? And how do we deal with them within our team environment.

Karen Nimmo has written a piece about it recently…

  • What is narcissism?
  • Do we all have it?
  • Is it healthy?
  • How can we spot one? What are the traits?
  • How do we cope with them in our team environments?
  1. Commonwealth Games

It was a reasonably successful one for the kiwi women. Overall the NZ team won 46 medals, and within that total more than half were won by female athletes.

    • What was your highlight (7s was awesome for me!)
    • Let’s talk Silver Ferns… a fill review is currently underway about their result (4th… not really surprising). It was pretty clear the coach, Janine Southby had lost the dressing room. How can we cope when that happens? How do we deal with losses
    • On a side note – congrats to Fair Play co-host Katrina Grant who got engaged over the weekend!
  1. Making sacrifices for our sports career?


A fantastic column in the Journal.ie by Irish rugby player Ailis Egan says female athletes sacrifice friends, family and careers to pursue an international sporting career. She says we “push pause” on our lives!

  1. Should female athletes sue broadcasters?


In a Guardian opinion piece Anya Alvarez says women – including athletes – are conditioned to accept what’s given to them but it’s time for a change. In the past few years in the states coverage of women’s sports has declined, and she’s said that “So, it’s of my opinion that women should sue sports media for equal coverage. Why? Because the lack of coverage across the spectrum of local and national media affects women athletes the ability to make a living on the field and to make money off of endorsements. For me, this is an equal pay issue.”

  1. Potty Parity update

We continue our potty parity discussions around the Basin Reserve cricket ground in Wellington. Ryan Holland from Cricket Wellington says architects are undertaking site measurements and planning for the toilet blocks.

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