Sexism in the sports world isn't a new development. But it's not usually caught on camera. That wasn't the case, however, for cricket player Chris Gayle. On Monday, Gayle told an Australian Network Ten female reporter "don't blush, baby," live on television. Now Gayle — who plays for the Melbourne Renegades — is being fined $10,000 Australian dollars (U.S. $7,200) for his sexist remarks, the BBC reports. During an interview with journalist Mel McLaughlin at a Big Bash League T20 match, McLaughlin complimented the cricket player on a major play. His response? "Just to see your eyes for the first time is nice. So, hopefully we win this game; we can have a drink after. Don't blush, baby," Gayle said before breaking out into a laugh. "Chris' comments were completely inappropriate and disrespectful," Melbourne Renegades' CEO Stuart Coventry said in a statement. Cricket Australia chief executive officer James Sutherland was more firm, saying that Gayle's comments "border on harassment." But Gayle thinks the comments have been blown out of proportion. He told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday that, "It was a simple joke. The game was going on... Things get out of proportion, but these things happen." He added, "There wasn't anything meant to be disrespectful or offensive to Mel. If she felt that way, I'm really sorry for that." Gayle told reporters that he had not spoken to McLaughlin, but he had reached out to her. Since the interview first aired, celebrities have taken to Twitter to voice their opinion on the matter. Most notably, Piers Morgan said that he was "absolutely outraged that everyone's so absolutely outraged" by the incident. The tweet was retweeted by Gayle.
This isn't the first time Gayle has been in trouble for sexist comments. According to The Daily Observer, in 2014, Gayle responded — on camera — to a female reporter's question about pitch conditions by saying, "Well I haven't touched yours yet, so I don't know how it feels." That same year, one of his teammates told Channel 9 commentators, "I just want to say hello to Mel, beautiful Mel, I was lucky enough to meet her once in Sydney," according to The Guardian. He also said, "I just want to say hi, and I see she’s still looking beautiful."' For her part, McLaughlin said in an interview that she was happy the incident started a discussion about equality in the sport. She said, "[Gayle] did issue an apology; I accept that, and let's just move on."