Should managers moderate sports talk in the office?

Discussing football or cricket in your office can exclude women and should be moderated by managers.

This is the opinion of Ann Francke, head of the Chartered Management Institute, she believes that sports banter can create a division in the workplace.

Ms Francke said:

A lot of women, in particular, feel left out. They don’t follow those sports and they don’t like either being forced to talk about them or not being included.

I have nothing against sports enthusiasts or cricket fans – that’s great.  But the issue is many people aren’t cricket fans.

It’s a gateway to more laddish behaviour and – if it just goes unchecked – it’s a signal of a more laddish culture.

It’s very easy for it to escalate from VAR talk and chat to slapping each other on the back and talking about their conquests at the weekend.

Ms Francke does not think that sports talk should be banned but a good manager should make sure it is moderated.

However, Jacqui Oatley, MBE and female sports presenter disagrees with Ms Francke and says it is a “terrible idea” to try and curb sports chat.

Ms Oatley said:

If you ban football chat or banter of any description, then all you’re going to do it alienate the people who actually want to communicate with each other.

It would be so, so negative to tell people not to talk about sport because girls don’t like it or women don’t like it, that’s far more divisive.

Rupert Adams, spokesperson for William Hill also disagrees with Ms Francke referencing how the popularity of women’s football is growing in England..

Mr Adams said:

58 per cent of our shop employees are female and our research suggests that a love of sport is by far the most important factor in bonding with our customers. Women’s football is going from strength to strength and I for one have had many a conversation with colleagues (both male & female) over the lionesses World Cup chances in 2019.

Peter Ferguson, director of Ferguson Consulting believes this sort of conversation can increase “bonds” in the office.

Mr Ferguson said:

I have seen managers and staff build a more direct bond over a shared love of sport which has excluded those who don’t share that interest.

The answer is not to ban the conversation, it is to ensure managers and staff are trained to understand that those shared interests should not get in the way of management decisions or working collaboratively.






Darius is the editor of HRreview. He has previously worked as a finance reporter for the Daily Express. He studied his journalism masters at Press Association Training and graduated from the University of York with a degree in History.