I CAN’T say I really know Chris Price. I saw him in the press box at a couple of Rochdale games at the start of last season, or maybe it was the end of the season before. The brief impression I got was of a decent, enthusiastic, conscientious lad. I would never have had him down as the sort of person who would one day make headlines around the world.
“Un comentarista deportivo de la BBC afronta el despido por un comentario “inapropiado” sobre el accidente aéreo ocurrido la semana pasada en el aeropuerto Madrid-Barajas,” reported a Spanish website yesterday.
“De Engelse BBC heeft het voornemen om Chris Price, voetbalcommentator van de BBC, te ontslaan omdat hij tijdens een westrijdverslag een ‘ongepaste opmerking’ had gemaakt over de Spaanse vliegtuigramp eerder deze week in Madrid,” a Dutch side informed its readers.
And in Romania, the story went like this: “Un comentator de fotbal al BBC trece prin momente grele după ce a făcut o remarcă nepotrivită, în timpul unui meci, despre dezastrul aerian care a avut loc recent în Spania.”
In English, I’m sure you know the story by now. If not: Price was doing live updates on Rochdale’s League Two match at Bradford for Radio Manchester on Saturday. During one update, he made an incredibly insensitive remark about the recent Madrid air disaster, saying: “Dale were making more holes in the Bradford defence than in a Spanish aircraft.”
There is no defence against this remark. It was crass and wrong, and it would seem that Price will – at the very least – lose his job as a Radio Manchester football and rugby league reporter as a result.
All the same, I find it hard not to feel sorry for him. Not for the likely loss of his radio job, but for the sheer level of public humiliation he has had to endure. The story has gone international, for goodness sake.
If you were to tell me that this is the cost of saying what he said, I would find it very hard to argue with you. But I’m not sure how I would have coped if I had been subjected to the level of attention Price is now facing when I was his age (he’s 25).
With all due respect, reporting on Rochdale for Radio Manchester is not the path to fame and fortune. Nor is commentating on rugby league for Manchester TV station Channel M; another of Price’s jobs. But I doubt very much that fame and fortune were ever Price’s motivations for getting into sports journalism.
I’m guessing here, but I would imagine that he wanted to be involved in sport, and saw reporting as a good way to achieve that aim. For these next few days, he will be more famous than anyone could possibly want to be, for all the wrong reasons, and that’s a tough thing to deal with.
And it’s for that reason that, stupid and insensitive as his comment was, I really cannot bring myself to lay into him.