Editorial: Not-so-great expectorations

Last updated 05:00 22/08/2014
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Are you offended by the sight of sportspeople spitting on the field?

Yes, it's disgusting

No, but it would be better if they were a little more discrete

Not at all, better out than in

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OPINION: It wasn't edifying TV, but back in 1997 ventriloquist Strassman's right-hand-man Chuck spat on interviewer Mike Hosking.

"In America I'd sue," Hosking complained, as the liquid sank into his suit.'

"Go ahead," said Strassman, serenely.

"I'm not real," Chuck explained, with a lawyerly leer.

Junior Warriors forward James Bell, by contrast, has been held accountable for unchivalrously depositing a mixture of saliva and blood on Newcastle Knight Joseph Boyce.

Bell's insistence that there was not a tincture of protest or intent in the incident failed to persuade the authorities. But even if his own account had been accepted - a player's gotta do what a player's gotta do, and he honestly thought he wasn't going to besmirch the other player - the warning remains. Be more careful..

Would it be too much to ask for sports players not to spit at all? Probably. They are often putting extreme demands on their bodies in ways that seem to invite mouthfuls of unpleasant byproduct. The most we can ask of them, reasonably, is to be so kind as to secrete discreetly.

TV audiences everywhere would surely be grateful if players who feel the need for evacuative measures might develop some sort of coded signal for the benefit of broadcasters - a benign little gesture that indicates a moment's unpleasantness is about to follow, so this isn't a good time to zoom in for that dramatic close-up.

And let's not deny careless conduct can raise health issues and the risk of passing on infections, particularly when blood is involved. In 2009, the swine flu outbreak led to UK footballers being told to quit spitting. A Health Protection Agency statement added that footballers, like the rest of us, wouldn't spit indoors so they shouldn't do it on the pitch. Come to think of it, you don't see gymnasts do it.

Away from the sport context, spitting on someone is not only offensive but illegal and rightly so. It's a squalid offence to have attached to your name. Waitangi protesters, in bygone years, have damaged their cause in the public eye through the puffy conceit that protest sanctifies their spittle. Like many sayings, "better out than in" is far from always true.

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- The Southland Times

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