A report from the Government’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) in the UK said that the average age at which people retire has risen from 63.8 years to 64.6 years for men and from 61.2 years to 62.3 years for women between 2004 and 2010.
So it seems that we not only have to work harder to keep our jobs, but work much longer, into what should be our twilight years, primarily because the pension age continuously moves upward in line with life expectancy.
For most of us this is not an issue. With relatively happy and normal lives our jobs can accommodate us working a little longer out of necessity, even if we would rather be somewhere else entirely. But what happens if your chosen career path leads you a merry little dance that has you scratching head because at the age of 35 you find yourself officially retired as in the case of many professional sports men and women? Or worse, what if you do want to work, are quite capable of working and yet your age prevents you from doing so?
It rarely makes the front pages but when it does it usually sparks an animated discussion as was the case in April 2007 when the BBC announced that the well known News caster Moira Stewart would be leaving Sunday AM, which resulted in backlash from press and colleagues who accused the BBC of ageism and sexism. Rumors circulated within the BBC and commercial newsrooms that Stuart had been removed because she was considered “too old” at 57.
Fast forward two years and once again the BBC were forced to deny claims that ageism was alive and well when they confirmed that 66-year-old Strictly Come Dancing judge, Arlene Philips, was axed in favour of the much younger Alesha Dixon, despite her vast experience in the dancing industry.
And while it seems that women are frequently the target of potential ageism in favour of younger, less experienced replacements, men are now starting to feel the pressure as is the case of John McCririck who has launched his own £3 million age discrimination claim consisting of £2.5million in punitive damages from Channel 4 and IMG Sports Media.
A larger than life horse racing tipster, commentator and pundit for Channel 4, McCririck has been synonymous with the sport for decades and had been earning around £150,000 from Channel 4 in 2001, a sum that increased in line with inflation until 2006 when it was cut to £90,000. In October 2012 it was announced that McCririck would not be included in the team presenting racing from January 2013 and hence the lawsuit ensued.
It was surprising that he had been let-go given that horse racing commentary and punditry heavily rely on those with the most experience in the industry. It is a sport where substance most definitely triumphs over style (other than on Ladies Day), and that’s what viewers and race-goers want. They want the knowledgeable, seasoned professionals discussing the issues of the day and that is irrespective of their age or gender.
When asked why he was undertaking the law suit, a frank and honest McCririck responded by saying “I want everyone to know that this can be stopped, that’s the only ambition I’ve got in life. Not to get back on television or anything like that, it is to make a mark for anyone who fears for their job, the scourge of our society among older people. It won’t happen to them because no-one would dare do it.”
So, love him or hate him, John McCririck is a man on a mission – to get his job back, one he loves and one he is more than capable of doing with relish and much to the amusement of the viewing public who miss his crazy style and even crazier antics. It all just seems a little bit boring without him.