October 29, 2009 Leave a comment
When will the BBC start taking some responsibility in its role as a public broadcaster and stop the shocking example it sets with its ageist policies? Apparently it has now added to its list of questionable decisions by banning dancers over 35 from auditioning for new Saturday night show, So You Think You Can Dance, to be aired on BBC One next year. The BBC argues that dancers over 35 lack the physical condition to perform the challenging routines required by the show, supporting its decision with all sorts of noises about health and safety. Whilst 35 seems a completely arbitrary age (why not 33 or 37?) and laughably young compared to most ageist decisions, it clearly underlines that the BBC seems unable to grasp the basic fact that chronological age is a meaningless concept.
Decisions about fitness for purpose in any arena need to be on the basis of individual ability and in this instance, as we all know, many dancers remain incredibly able until well into their sixties and older. Yes, it does mean having to put them through some sort of fitness and ability assessment but shouldn’t they be doing this for all potential competitors anyway? The BBC’s stance is compounding that taken by many employers with respect to the retirement age, i.e. that it’s easier to hide behind a policy and a number rather than putting in the effort to properly and adequately (and fairly) performance manage your employees on an individual basis.
According to a report in the Times, The English Amateur Dancesport Association (EADA) has warned the BBC that it could face a challenge in the courts. I do hope so.